SAN FRANCISCO — Violent protests erupted at UC Berkeley on Wednesday night hours before right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak.
Black-clad protesters could be seen throwing fireworks at police and at the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Breitbart editor’s event was to be held. They were also seen tearing down metal barriers, smashing windows of the student center and setting a fire outside the building.
The university estimated that more than 1,500 protesters were gathered outside the student center. At least one person was injured, according to the university, although it was not immediately clear whether the individual was a protester, staff member or a bystander.
Administrators decided to cancel the event about two hours before Yiannopoulos’ speech. UC Berkeley said it removed him from campus “amid the violence and destruction of property and out of concern for public safety.”
The school reported broken windows and other property damage.
“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,” UC Berkeley said in a statement.
“While Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own, we are bound by the Constitution, the law, our values and the campus’s Principles of Community to enable free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective,” it added.
Yiannopoulos later posted on his verified Facebook account that he had been evacuated after “violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building.”
A planned speech by Yiannopoulos at UC Davis was also canceled last month in response to protests.