Early Thursday morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to respond to the violence that occurred Wednesday night at the University of California Berkeley campus when rioters set fires, threw smoke bombs, and assaulted people to protest against an event on campus. The Technology Editor for Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos, was scheduled to speak Wednesday night, but the event was canceled and he was subsequently forced to evacuate the campus for security reasons due to the riots. Upon hearing the news of the mayhem, the President threatened to cut off federal funding to the state university if they continued to fight free speech.
“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Trump tweeted early Thursday.
The event was canceled about two hours before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak because a crowd of about 1,500 angry students began to form outside the venue.
“Of paramount importance this evening was the campus’s commitment to ensure the safety and security of those attending the event, the speaker, those who came to engage in lawful protest, as well as members of the public and the Berkeley campus community,” the university said in a statement.
The U.C. Berkeley Police Chief, Margo Bennet, blamed a handful of the protestors for the violence.
“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” she said.
Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960’s, when a group of activist students protested the university’s rules against political groups on campus and saw it as oppressing their right of free speech. Ironically, decades later, students at the same school violently “protested” to keep someone with different political views from speaking.