Image: A man pulls a piece of metal out of a window as a flare burns inside a Wells Fargo Bank

U.S. news

Violent Berkeley Protests Force Cancellation of Yiannopoulos Talk

A crowd protesting an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and sparked a massive bonfire.

 / Updated 13 PHOTOS
Image: People march in front of Sproul Hall to protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos

People march in front of Sproul Hall to protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif.

A crowd protesting a far-right commentator's appearance at the University of California at Berkeley hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and sparked a massive bonfire, prompting officials to call off the event.

The decision came two hours before Wednesday's talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, a polarizing editor of Breitbart News, after some 1,500 people had gathered outside the venue.

Ben Margot / AP
  • Share
Image: People protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos

People protest Yiannopoulos' appearance in Berkeley. Prior to the burst of violence, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators had been protesting the appearance for hours.

Yiannopoulos, a 32-year-old right-wing provocateur, is a vocal supporter of Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist. He was banned from Twitter after leading a harassment campaign against "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones.

His visit to Berkeley was sponsored by the campus Republican club. The university has stressed it did not invite him and does not endorse his ideas but is committed to free speech and rejected calls to cancel the event.

Ben Margot / AP
  • Share
Image: Protest at UC Berkeley

Rioters loot and vandalize a Starbucks store during the protest.

Officials said it was a small group of protesters dressed in black and in hooded sweatshirts that showed up as night fell to break windows, throw smoke bombs and flares, and start the raging blaze outside the building.

"This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers," said UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet.

Bennet said police determined at that point they couldn't guarantee security, canceled the event and evacuated Yiannopoulos from the building.

Noah Berger / EPA
  • Share
Image: Protesters against a scheduled speaking appearance by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos

Protesters march on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue.

As the evening wore on, crowds of protesters cleared away from outside the building. By 8 p.m. the crowd had thinned and at least 100 protesters that remained danced to a brass band playing music and marched off campus and into a main avenue.

Ben Margot / AP
  • Share
Image: A man pulls a piece of metal out of a window as a flare burns inside a Wells Fargo Bank

A man pulls a piece of metal out of a window as a flare burns inside a Wells Fargo Bank in Berkeley.

Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Image: Protesters march with signs in Berkeley

Protesters march holding signs in Berkeley.

Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Image: Police officers prepare to deploy a skirmish line at UC Berkeley

Police officers prepare to deploy after a student protest turned violent at UC Berkeley.

Stephen Lam / Reuters
  • Share
Image: Milo Yiannopoulos Protest

Eddy Brock, a free speech advocate, holds his head after he said he was attacked by demonstrators.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning to comment, tweeting: "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"

Noah Berger / EPA
  • Share
Image: A rioter paints an anarchy symbol on a Wells Fargo bank

A rioter paints an anarchy symbol on a Wells Fargo bank during the protest.

Noah Berger / EPA
  • Share
Image: Milo Yiannopoulos Protest

A demonstrator creates a fire after during protests.

Noah Berger / EPA
  • Share
Image: A protester smashes a bank window in Berkeley

A protester smashes a bank window.

Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Image: A protester is carried into a building by police officers during a protest on the UC Berkeley campus

A protester is carried into a building by police on the UC Berkeley campus.

Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images
  • Share
Image: A bonfire set by demonstrators protesting a scheduled speaking appearance by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos burns on Sproul Plaza on the University of California at Berkeley campus on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif.

A bonfire lit by demonstrators on Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.

Ben Margot / AP
  • Share
1/13