Kiara Robles, a Blockstream employee and Trump supporter, was pepper sprayed while giving an interview for a local TV station at UC Berkley where Milo Yiannopoulos, a highly controversial and provocative speaker, was to hold a talk on “cultural appropriation.”
“We survive the peaceful protests. Glad to see intellectual debates are valued at UC Berkeley.” – Robles tweeted shortly after she was pepper sprayed.
Protests began peacefully, but when night descended “150 masked agitators who came onto campus… interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.” – according to a statement by UC Berkeley which condemned “in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.”
The 150 “masked agitators” are said to belong to Antifa, but it is not clear whether they were students at the university or completely unrelated. They broke ATMs, bank windows, looted Starbucks and set fires. There are further reports of physical violence.
Twelve UC Berkley professors had previously requested a cancellation of the event calling Milo’s conduct “harassment, slander, defamation, and hate speech.” The university, which gave birth to the free speech movement, refused, citing the first amendment. The event was yesterday cancelled following the violence leading Trump to state:
“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Although violence would have been difficult to foresee as it has rarely happened before, protests were to be expected, with even some bitcoiners attending. Emin Gün Sirer, Cornell Professor and co-director of The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts, publicly stated that he was “heading to the protest in Berkeley.” He told CCN today:
“The property damage came exclusively from one single group, and I saw many students try to undo the damage that was inflicted by that group.
Jackson Palmer, Dogecoin’s co-founder, also attended.
America on Edge
The United States of America stand divided. The election of Trump has seemingly shown a stark difference in attitudes and perspectives between the coastal and prosperous areas, such as California and New York, and the more rural parts of the country. This sharp division is further illustrated by Trump’s win of the electoral votes, but loss of the popular vote by some two million voters.
To his opposers, Trump is tearing down the liberal order and the open society, erecting walls and indiscriminately banning entry to the country, taking a hard line on immigration and, in particular, Muslim immigration. To his supporters, Trump is standing up for America, is bringing back jobs and will “eradicate ISIS.”
The clash of these two visions is often on display during Milo’s events which are usually met with protests, but rarely violence. Yiannopoulos, a British bitcoiner who describes himself as a Christian homosexual with Jewish ancestry, is known for such statements as “lesbians don’t exist,” “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” and “The Left Chose Islam Over Gays.” He told the BBC back in November:
“I want to desensitise people to this offense-taking, grievance and victimhood culture, and if the way to respond to outrage culture is to be outrageous – which seems to be working… I’m winning on college campuses to be sure – then so much the better.”
He rose in prominence during GamerGate due to being gay and therefore somewhat safer from criticism by what they call social justice warriors. He often focuses on feminism, saying that it has gone too far, that there is no gender pay gap, and that there are no real lesbians. He calls transgenders “deeply mentally damaged” as well as takes issue with affirmative action, cultural appropriation – whereby, for example, a white writer is criticized for writing about a black character – and strongly criticizes Islam for being oppressive to women and gays.
He was banned from Twitter in July 2016 after calling Leslie Jones, an actor in an all-female headlining cast of a Ghostbusters remake, a “black dude.” Jones had received a torrent of abuse, including clearly racist comments.
Milo is a strong supporter of Trump, campaigning for him during the election by giving talks to universities which are usually well attended, but tend to be quite eventful before and after the talk. Violence, however, is rare and has never reached the levels seen yesterday.
Images from Twitter and Shutterstock.