“It is tragic that the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement is also its final resting place.”
– UC Berkeley College Republicans
On Wednesday night, Milo Yiannopoulos had yet another appearance cancelled among heavy protests, this time violent and damaging. Last night, agitators aimed fireworks and rocks at police and destroyed buildings by smashing windows and launching Molotov cocktails. As crowds dispersed, protesters continued destroying property in downtown Berkeley. Because of the violence, the university called off the scheduled event.
UC Berkeley essentially ended its reign as the leader of the Free Speech Movement by refusing to properly secure the campus and ensure that attendees would be allowed to make it into and out of the event safely. When the Berkeley College Republicans scheduled Milo, the university sought to distance itself as much as possible, and prior to the event UC Berkeley’s chancellor sent out a notice briefly supporting the right to free speech, but then going on at length to call Mr. Yiannopoulos a “ troll and provocateur,” and clarifying that the university stood “ready to provide resources and support to our community members who may be adversely affected by his words and actions on the stage.” But there was no mention of the university’s preparedness to protect Milo’s or his supporters’ First Amendment rights. Just like UC Davis last month, UC Berkeley abandoned its commitment to free speech by prioritizing the feelings of protesters over the rights of the speaker. In response, President Trump tweeted a threat that the UC system’s federal funding could be cut if free speech continues to be threatened.