After Violence at UC Berkeley, Trump Suggests Ending Federal Funding

A fire burns on UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza during protest against an appearance by Breitbart News commentator Milo Yiannopolous.

A fire burns on UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza during protest against an appearance by Breitbart News commentator Milo Yiannopolous. (Brittany Hosea-Small/UC Berkeley)

Hours after violence and vandalism on campus forced the cancellation of an appearance by Breitbart News commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley, President Trump weighed in on the events:

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?

Among the immediate reactions to the president’s tweet-threat, a statement from Rep. Barbara Lee, whose district includes Berkeley:

Rep. Barbara Lee on Twitter

Pres. Trump doesn’t have a license to blackmail universities. He’s the president, not a dictator, & his empty threats are an abuse of power.

In the 2015-16 academic year, the campus received $370 million in federal funding for research. The campus is a leading center for research on energy, climate, computer and data sciences and economics, among many other fields.

The Berkeley College Republicans booked Yiannopolous, a self-proclaimed gay internet troll who refers to Trump as “daddy” and championed his candidacy. UC Berkeley officials, citing the First Amendment and campus tradition of free speech, allowed the event to go forward despite widespread criticism that Yiannopolous’ commentary is frequently racist, misogynistic and anti-Muslim.

A large crowd gathered in Sproul Plaza well in advance of Yiannopolous’ 8 p.m. appearance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

While most of the crowd appeared to be ready to protest in the same loud but peaceful vein seen the past two weekends — for the Women’s Marches in Oakland and San Francisco and the airport demonstrations opposing Trump’s refugee and immigration order — the crowd was also joined by smaller numbers of militants who came to the protest with fireworks, hammers and pepper spray.

In a statement issued after the Yiannopolous event was canceled, UC Berkeley officials blamed the violence on “a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest”:

Fires that were deliberately set, one outside the campus Amazon outlet; Molotov cocktails that caused generator-powered spotlights to catch fire; commercial-grade fireworks thrown at police officers; barricades pushed into windows and skirmishes within the crowd were among the evening’s violent acts.

The masked agitators came to campus eastbound on Bancroft Way, and fire damage and other destruction to the Stiles Hall construction site, where a new residence hall is planned, was reported. The group entered campus and immediately began throwing rocks at officers. In an effort to avoid injuries to innocent members of the surrounding crowd who might have been caught in the middle, police officers exercised restraint and did not respond with force.

Agitators also attacked some members of the crowd who were rescued by police. UCPD reported no major injuries and about a half dozen minor injuries. Mutual aid officers from the city of Oakland and from Alameda County arrived at Berkeley around 7:45 p.m. to assist UCPD and Berkeley city police.

The news site Berkeleyside reported scattered damage to banks and other businesses near campus and downtown.

  • davidvoth

    The fanatical anti-Trump people are doing exactly what they told us that Trump supporters were going to do in the event that Trump lost the election.

  • eliauw

    150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest then disappear into the night, sounds more like the kind tactic that would be used by Yiannopolous and the racist, misogynist, xenophobic trolls that support him. His exploitation of such a right-wing dirty trick to support his cause and line his pockets with the cold hard cash of gullible suckers in 3…2…

    • Curious

      Nope sounds like libs like OWS.

    • Damiana

      Of course it’s one of his tactics.

    • virgil

      Had we not seen same tactics prior by Black Bloc then your suspicions might have been justified but we have seen this all before at WTO etc. So is his Milo’s power that great?

  • DrG

    I didn’t see Trump allowing dissent at his rallies. If someone came in with a dump Trump sign, or similar, that person would be stomped on or sucker-punched. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as they say. Trump’s threat again shows what a vindictive hypocrite he is.

    • virgil

      The admin at a public uni especially one that celebrates the FSM at every turn, has a great responsibility to diverse expression of opinion than did a candidate like Trump did last year.

  • virgil

    Yes cut off federal funds to this swamp of political correctness!! It isn’t a uni anyways, it is a Mao style re education camp.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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