Berkeley Mayor, UC Police Union Criticize Campus Planning for Yiannopoulos Event

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

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

Updated Feb. 6, 11:40 a.m.

UC Berkeley could have done a better job in preparing for the violent protests that led to the cancellation of an on-campus speech by Breitbart News commentator Milo Yiannopoulos Wednesday, according to Berkeley’s mayor and the union that represents university police officers.

The protest against Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur criticized for racist, misogynist, anti-transgender and white supremacist statements, caused about $100,000 in damage to campus property and led to the vandalism of more than a dozen businesses in downtown Berkeley and along Telegraph Avenue.

“In the end, this was a decision that I didn’t make, that the City Council didn’t make. This was a decision of the university,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said in an interview.

“I think the university should have consulted with the city before they made the decision to invite this person to the campus,” Arreguin said. “There should have been some serious consideration about whether he should have been invited to begin with, given the fact that he’s provoked a violent response on other campuses.”

Campus officials say the university did not invite Yiannopoulos and had no authority to prevent the Berkeley College Republicans, who sponsored the event, from inviting the speaker.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said police actions the night of the protest conformed to findings and recommendations from a report issued after protests on UC Berkeley and Davis campuses in 2011.

UC police were in touch with Berkeley city police about the event well before Wednesday night, Mogulof said.

The demonstrations involved more than a thousand protesters. Campus officials say police and the university could not have anticipated that some of them would “invade” the campus to shut down the Yiannopoulos event.

The campus police department has launched an investigation into Wednesday night’s violence. UC Berkeley officials say about 150 masked individuals hurled Molotov cocktails, set fires and pushed barricades into windows.

Nine people were treated for injuries at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center over a two-day period, and three men were arrested in connection with the protest.

The union that represents UC police says there wasn’t a good tactical plan in place beforehand.

“They were unable to assist the citizens and the public that were out there that were defenseless against these rioters, who were actively engaging in breaking the law and attacking defenseless citizens,” said John Bakhit, an attorney who represents the Federated University Police Officers Association.

Bakhit said in an interview that UC Berkeley police officers were ordered not to take any enforcement action against protesters who lit fires and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at them. He said there weren’t enough officers on hand at the start of the protests to make arrests and protect the public.

Militant protesters used police barricades to break windows on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union building during a demonstration against the scheduled appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1, 2017.
Militant protesters used police barricades to break windows on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union building during a demonstration against the scheduled appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1, 2017. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

“When these rioters saw that there was no action taken against them, it emboldened them into acting more aggressively,” Bakhit said.

Campus officials would not comment on the union’s criticism, but Mogulof said that civilian university staff does not interfere in law enforcement decisions.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and other campus officials have condemned the actions of protesters who committed vandalism.

“The violence was an attack on our fundamental values, which are maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive, civil society — the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” Dirks said in a statement. “We are now, and will remain in the future, committed to Free Speech not only as a vital component of our campus identity, but as essential to our educational mission.”

Hours after the protest, President Donald Trump suggested possible cuts to federal funding for UC Berkeley in a tweet that prompted sharp criticism from Rep. Barbara Lee, whose district includes Berkeley.

KQED’s Sukey Lewis and Devin Katayama contributed reporting to this story.

  • goodsam73

    “Campus officials say police and the university could not have
    anticipated that some of them would “invade” the campus to shut down
    the Yiannopoulos event.”

    well of course they should have anticipated that this was going to happen ! this is what always seems to happen in the East Bay – peaceful protests morph into dangerous riots injuring people and causing property damage and ruining the reputation of the City of Oakland. Shame on them for inviting this guy in the first place – if they felt that they HAD to have him speak at Cal then UCB should have gotten a bond from him and the event organizers to pay for extra security and potential damage.

    Did the Chancellor et al learn nothing from what happened at UC Davis ??? Instead for back treading and finger pointing I expect to see thorough investigation of this mess. BTW — why exactly were the police able to arrest only 1 person ???

    • james barklow

      American academics for the most part are airheads

      • Gaddy McGadfly

        Brilliant! Maybe you should get a refund on your GED, unless there’s a recall.

    • Josh

      He was invited by the Berkeley College Republicans, who have every right to invite speakers which share their beliefs, as do the College Democrats, feminist student groups, socialist student groups, etc.

      Everybody has a right to speak and have their voice heard, even if you don’t personally agree with their opinion.

      And no, the sponsors of the event SHOULD NOT have to pay any extra security fee or damage bond. That’s the responsibility of the university to not allow terrorist thugs to suppress free speech.

      If Trump supporters regularly rioted at campus speeches by “progressives,” I’m sure you would unequivocally condemn the thuggery and would not say that the progressives sponsoring the events should have to pay any extra security fees or damage bonds.

      • Gaddy McGadfly

        Yes the BCR should have been required to post a bond given the speaker’s past record of violence where he has spoken before.. “That’s the responsibility of the university to not allow terrorist thugs to suppress free speech.”, how’s that going to happen? Maybe the university ought to conduct covert spy operations, maybe they should get into the drone business.

        • GarandFan

          “The speaker’s past record of violence”? Who did he attack? And if he is required to post a bond in order to speak, will you require ALL other outside speakers to post a bond? Establishing a safe venue is the responsibility of the school, not the speaker. Or would you prefer a speaker come in with 1,000 Hells Angels as his “security detail”? That will work out well.

        • MC Williams

          Let me take a guess, but I bet you believe that requiring an ID to vote is akin to a poll tax. Well, buddy, the courts have already decided that requiring only certain student groups to pay a “damage bond” is, in fact, a speech tax, so nice try!

        • Josh

          No need for spies or drones, just have the police forces actually *do their job* and not let terrorist mobs run amok for hours while they just stand there and watch.

    • Gaddy McGadfly

      Absolutely they not only “should have”, but could have (easily) given the speaker’s track record. I’m still betting the violence largely resulted from a false flag.

      • GarandFan

        That tin foil hat getting a little too tight? You might want to get a copy of the transcript of the NYC “professor” screaming profanities at cops, cursing them for not kicking the asses of a group she was opposed to. Typical liberal.

    • brucegr

      Seriously? You don’t know about the law do you? How about the police enforce current laws, which make it a crime to riot and destroy property and assault people. The people who attended Milo’s lecture were residents of Berkeley on the whole. Please explain why the authorities valued their lives less than the protestors, and why when protests turned violent, the police stood back and watched. And if anyone was to pay a bond it should be the protestors. If property gets damaged, they don’t get their money back. That’s fairer. But the left have this twisted logic that absolves them of murder, larceny, and sedition. It’s the logic an 8 yo spoiled snowflake princess uses with her father.

  • nonazis

    He had planned to “expose” undocumented students revealing photos and/or personal information about them. Had he done so, it would have been an act of violence which could have resulted in serious (perhaps even fatal consequences) for some students, an act that couldn’t be undone afterwards. What’s worse, intimidation and real violence against human beings or vandalism and broken windows? Violence follows this White Supremacist around wherever he goes. Someone was shot at one of his events. Does anyone need to be reminded of why Nazis are bad? I’m glad he was shut down. I don’t like to see universities damaged but letting this guy target and harm vulnerable people is worse.

    • brucegr

      hahaha. you have no clue do you.
      If you really believe what you say above, then attack Milo, not students who are curious about what he says.
      The tally so far is Milo hasn’t hurt anyone directly or indirectly. Leftards are consistently putting students in hospital, including people that have nothing to do with Milo.
      But don’t let the facts spoil your delusion that, For Leftards, the high moral ENDS justify the lowest subhuman MEANS.
      That’s FASCISM as practiced by NAZIs….If it looks like a Nazi, if it acts like a Nazi, if it talks like a Nazi…..then it is a NAZI.

      • Gaddy McGadfly

        The clueless leading the clueless… Nazis were not leftists they were right wing conservatives, i.e. extreme right wing. what alt-history book are you reading. So you’re on a first name basis with the speaker, how folksy. Yeah “… talks like a Nazi” that would be your guy — extreme right wing conservative.

        • Jason

          Try Merriam Webster not GOOGLE.

        • brucegr

          What date were they right wing conservatives, clueless?
          Instead of reading Gramsci and Alinsky and other subversive leftards, read real history, in detail.
          Start with the DAP and its platform, then what it morphed into, the NSDAP. Both parties used the same appeal to the moral high ground, the same subterfuge, oppression of free speech, and violence your furtive brainwashing grub mates are using today in the US, Canada, and Europe. If it looks, talks, and acts like a NAZI….

    • james barklow

      Milo is not a white supremacist. He just calls them as he sees them. And he’s largely right.

      • Gaddy McGadfly

        No he’s not a white supremacist, he just lives with them. “largely right(i.e. correct?)” or largely (alt)-right…. what planet are you from.

        • Jason

          Apparently not the psycho planet you’re orbiting on.

        • MC Williams

          I can’t imagine that his black boyfriend or Jewish parents would approve of him living with white supremacists.

    • Gaddy McGadfly

      Great and all this time I was concerned about government spying n its citizens. Guess it’s been privatized.

  • Victro La

    Hope the mayor comes up with some arrests soon of the rioters. If he doesn’t he risks getting prosecuted for inciting a riot and obstruction of justice. Whichever the case he needs to resign as soon as possible. Or get forced to resign. Or just get fired

    • Gaddy McGadfly

      It was not up to Berkeley’s mayor, it was the responsibility of UCB to vet the speaker and considered the very real possibility of violent protests. UC failed their responsibility not the mayor.

      • Jason

        Good luck with that fairy tale.

      • GarandFan

        Evidently “free speech” only applies to those with whom you agree.

  • Burke Edwards

    The masked Ninja-style rioters were not university students, but members of Black Bloc, professional outside agitators recruited by Milo Yiannopoulos to create chaos in liberal areas such as UC Berkeley which is what he does. Yiannopoulos is part of the Breitbart fascist machine, still partly controlled by Steve Bannon who also controls Donald Trump. You can easily equate Black Bloc and Yiannopoulos with the Brown Shirts, Bannon with Joseph Goebbels and Trump with Hitler. I think they all would like the comparison.

    • james barklow

      Sure. That explains everything. A false flag event sponsored by Milo to increase book sales. Just like the Reichstag fire. BTW Berkeley is not a “liberal area.” Mario Salvo wouldn’t recognize the place.

      • Burke Edwards

        Mario Savio is long gone, but Berkeley is still the kind of “soft liberal” neighborhood Milo loves to exploit.

    • Gaddy McGadfly

      Your saying it could have been a false flag, in effect I agree. I am not ruling out actions of Berkeley’s anarchists.

    • Jason

      Yes we know and the Trade Center Towers didn’t really fall down.

      • Burke Edwards

        So what do you really know, Jason? Anything at all?

        • GarandFan

          Evidently “rumors” are facts to idiots like you. Harry Reid had an anonymous tip that Romney paid no federal taxes. Confronted later about the lie, Reid just smiled and said “we won”.

          Let’s see you present FACTS and EVIDENCE. Or is that too hard a concept to grasp?

        • MC Williams

          Well, I know one of the rioters was Ian Dabney Miller, an employee of UC-Berkeley.

          • Burke Edwards

            And what do you suppose was his motive?

  • MisterMoustache

    NAZI is an acronym for…google it libtards. Suck on that.

  • Gaddy McGadfly

    I submit for consideration the issue of whether these acts of violence were perpetrated by the “protestors” or another contingent who may have infiltrated the protest with the express purpose of discrediting the protest or whether there is the possibility of a false flag. This speaker has a history of violence following him where ever he speaks. Berkeley also has a “community” of anarchists with no allegiance to the politics of either the left or the right, and would gladly attempt to discredit both perspectives. Alt-right rhetoric consistently alleges the left has a genetic proclivity for violent protests yet evidence offered in this respect has been largely circumstantial and not altogether convincing.

    • GarandFan

      We’re told that a ‘small group’ did this. Were they not outnumbered by the rest of the crowd? The crowds SILENCE was their consent. You admit “this speaker has a history of violence following him”. Perhaps you should have informed the UC administration and Kampus Kops. They profess to be totally unaware.

    • MC Williams

      I guess it is also the chick’s fault for dressing provactively that causes her rape, huh? Blame the victim? You are part of the problem.

  • MBrooks

    The Mayor needs to be fired for trying to placing the blame on the speaker, instead of the fascist students and administration that consist of left-wing loons and melting snowflakes who shut down any diversity of thought and only want to hear leftist drivel all the time. The fact that any parents would send their child to the bastion of leftism is a puzzle to me. They should lose all federal funding.

  • Jason

    Tell us again how one man speaking at a campus provoked firebombing on a campus that once promoted freedom of speech. Tell us again how one man provoked a UC BERKELEY employee to knock down and pummel a Trump supporter. Arreguin is scum.

  • The third world mentality has finally come to a full bloom at Berkely.

  • mercedmann2013

    They should not have let him speak at the campus? Typical libtard thinking. Maybe the mayor and police should have put a plan of action together knowing these thugs were going to protest and protected his first amendment rights to free speech instead of letting we the tax payers foot the bill for this riot. The mayor, the Berkeley administration and the campus police all failed on protecting public property. Grow some balls and stand up for free speech like you profess to loving so much. This whole incident disgusted me and most of California as again it was the laughing stock of the nation to allow this to happen.

  • GarandFan

    This is wrong on so many levels:
    1) Shove it! Mr Mayor. You’d just violate someone’s 1st Amendment rights. Simple solution from a simple minded liberal.
    2) Kampus Kops did exactly what their political masters in the UC administration told them to do. NOTHING.
    3) Don’t give me that crap “we didn’t know it could turn violent”……how many times have we see similar events at other schools?
    4) There should have been a police cordon around the event not inside, and people checked as they came in.
    5) There should have been roving patrols outside the cordoned area, free to respond as needed.
    6) Wearing of masks should result in immediate arrest at such events. WHY are you hiding your face?
    7) If this was a campus event for students, non-students should have been turned away.

    Now the cover-up by UC administration and kampus Kops begins. I can only hope the local businesses that sustained damage present those bills to the University. Students can then be advised of canceled classes the next semester because they don’t have the money for them. Actions have consequences. Something they don’t seem to teach. If ‘only a small minority’ caused the damage, then the rest of the crowd should have stopped them. THEIR SILENCE signaled their CONSENT.

    • MC Williams

      Ian Dabney Miller, who is employed by the university, was a part of the paramilitary rioters. I don’t know if journalists will actually report, or if the police will act, but a ton of eveidence has been provided.

  • El Cid

    We are back to the 1950’s where gay men who have the courage to speak out are under attack in this country. Shameful. Has anyone at Berkeley actually listened to Milo? He consistently calls for people who want to debate in civilized fashion. Where are the people willing to confront his ‘provocative’ ideas? In the streets throwing fire bombs?


Ted Goldberg

Ted Goldberg is the morning editor for KQED News. His beat areas include San Francisco politics, the city's fire department and the Bay Area's refineries.

Prior to joining KQED in 2014, Ted worked at CBS News and WCBS AM in New York and Bay City News and KCBS Radio in San Francisco. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1998.

You can follow him at @TedrickG and reach him on email at

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