On the first day of February, things went off the rails at the University of California, Berkeley. This past Wednesday night, violence broke out on the campus. It was an explosion, one of action and fear. That night, Milo Yiannopoulos was meant to hold an event, open to the Berkeley community. But why the anger at the guest speaker? Yiannopoulos has recently been credited with aiding in the dehumanizing string of Twitter attacks on actress and SNL star Leslie Jones, who played Patty Tolan in the recent female reboot of Ghostbusters. In these attacks, Twitter users insulted countless things about Jones, often using her blackness and judgement on her femininity as a springboard. In addition, Yiannopoulos is also host to a new college grant opportunity, offered specifically to white men. He is considered radical leader in the community of right-wing conservatives.
The events of Wednesday evening were fueled by the disgust of the Berkeley students, who brought with them several grievances. Some students decided to air them physically. Property was destroyed, rocks were thrown at police, and at least one fire is known to have been started. Although violence is not condoned at the University of California, these actions have sparked national conversation on freedom of speech, as well as the current state of the government.
In response to the protests, President Trump has made threats about cutting off federal funding to Berkeley.
In a tweet Thursday, he addresses the University directly, deciding there could be consequences for “…violence on innocent people with a different point of view…”, a declaration that startled Democrats, Republicans, and college community members everywhere.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The Lieutenant Governor of California disagreed with Trump’s view. He stated in a tweet soon after that he was appalled at “…the willingness to deprive over 38,000 students access to an education because of the actions of a few.” We have yet to see what the President, or University of California, Berkeley, will do next.
As a UC Regent I’m appalled at your willingness to deprive over 38,000 students access to an education because of the actions of a few. pic.twitter.com/zzUaaaUM3u
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 2, 2017
What do you think about violent protests? How should the First Amendment be enforced? In the case of this outspoken campus, there seems to be difficulty to find a perfect answer.