Author and controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos spoke briefly on the campus of UC Berkeley on Sunday while hundreds protested against outside police barriers. At around noon, Yiannopoulos arrived with Mike Cernovich of InfoWars and pro-Israel activist Pamela Geller. Originally, Yiannopoulos had been invited to speak by campus publication the Berkeley Patriot during its planned “Free Speech Week.” After being the target of a threatened campus-wide boycott on the part of faculty and students, the Berkeley Patriot pulled its sponsored ship for the event that was to go from Sunday to Sept. 27.

At Sproul Plaza on Sunday, police had erected lines of blockades and orange barriers, as well as metal detectors at several checkpoints. About 300 people showed up by noon, but only approximately 50 were allowed inside the police lines to hear Yiannopoulos speak. There were both supporters and detractors who shouted at his other for attention. 

Yvette Felarca, a public school teacher and leftist activists of the “By Any Means Necessary” (BAMN) movement, was in evidence at the event. She told the media that she and her comrades were there to “protect the community” and “make it a sanctuary campus.”

Yiannpoulos spoke to the crowd from the steps of Sproul Hall at the unofficial event. Due to campus-imposed restrictions, he did not use a microphone or loudspeakers. He knelt in the midst of the crowd and asked them to pray for protesters who “don’t know what they’re doing.” While he did so, a member of the leftist “Refuse Fascism” group shouted “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Yiannopolous’ supporters managed to block the protester. Members of the crowd sang the famous Civil Rights-era anthem “We Shall Overcome” as they prayed.

After spending time with fans taking photographs, and autographing signs and hats, Yiannopoulos blew kisses to the crowd and then led them in a chorus of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At about half-past noon, bodyguards escorted Yiannopoulos out of the plaza and took him to a waiting automobile. The crowds in Sproul Plaza remained in place after he left. Before leaving, however, Yiannopoulos announced that he plans to return to UC Berkeley every year with new sponsors.

At a press conference held after Yiannopoulos’ departure, University of California police chief Margo Bennett claimed that security for the event, including the cost of material and personnel -- cost around $800,000. Bennett also said that campus police received assistance from eight to 10 other law enforcement agencies. University spokesman Dan Mogulof said that UC Berkeley will not make cuts to student services and programs because of the costs of security at controversial events. 

Once Yiannopoulos left campus, BAMN and Refuse Fascism protesters began marching through campus, while at approximately 1 p.m. some Trump supporters joined them. Berkeley Police spokesperson Jennifer Coats said that at least one arrest was made related to  Yiannopoulos’ appearance and the march. According to the police Twitter account, a  30-year-old Oakland resident, Keith Sherman, was arrested on suspicion of carrying a banned weapon and wearing a mask during the commission of a crime. Antifa and BAMN protesters have been notable at protests, including those in Berkeley in past, for wearing black head-to-toe as well as masks and carrying weapons. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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