Protests sparked by outrage that Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart writer, would be speaking at UC Berkeley turned violent on Wednesday night. Some have labeled the protests as "riots" because of the damage that occurred, which included a fraction of the protestors lighting fires and destroying property. Here are some photos and videos of the UC Berkeley protests that show the good, the bad, and the ugly of Wednesday's events.
Yiannopoulos has called himself an internet troll, and has written pieces defending campus hazings as one of the last passages of masculinity, and defended North Carolina's bathroom bill by saying transgender people need mental healthcare.
Protests were planned for the hours before the speech, which was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Pacific Time. The protest drew a crowd of 1,500 people. UC Berkeley officials did not advise against those who wanted to protest, but rather encouraged them to learn how to protest safely.
And while the majority of the crowd did just that, sadly, a small group of protestors began destroying property. After police asked protesters to leave, videos and pictures showed some protesters lighting fires, knocking down police barricades, and breaking windows. Because of the acts of violence, the speech was canceled. "The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest," a spokesperson for UC Berkeley told NBC News.
The pictures and videos are disturbing. At several points, the protests were chaotic and tense.
UC Berkeley maintains that a fraction of the protestors resorting to violence "overshadowed" a protest that started out peacefully, and condemned the violent acts being used to interfere with the right to free speech:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display, and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives.
Unfortunately, the acts of violence and destruction of property went beyond the campus. NBC Bay Area reporter Gillian Edevane posted photos on Twitter of Starbucks and banks that were vandalized:
Even worse, acts of aggression were committed by protesters against those in support of Yiannopoulos speaking. A woman being interviewed by the media about her thoughts regarding the protests was reportedly pepper sprayed.
But there are also videos that show protestors peacefully marching. At one point, protestors chanted "When fascists come to town, what do we do? Shut it down."
And it is important to note that not every act of violence was committed by Yiannopoulos protesters. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Michael Bodley shot video that shows protesters being run over by a car.
Protesting someone whose beliefs you feel are dangerous to vulnerable communities, who spreads intolerance and hate, is one thing. But turning that frustration into acts of violence will only spread more intolerance and hate... it makes people who support the issues you are fighting against question your validity.
But luckily, there are people who know that. A man was captured cleaning up graffiti at a bank after the protest shows. He did it because "I support people," he told a Daily Californian reporter. That's a message everyone — gay, straight, white, black, liberal, or conservative — needs to hear.