The Truth Report: Freedom from Speech in Berkeley, California
An ATP Report Production – On This Episode Barry Nussbaum discusses the truth about freedom from speech in Berkeley, California.
Welcome to The Truth Report, I’m Barry Nussbaum.
Several weeks ago when we did the truth report on the riot at Berkeley, I was hopeful that what the University of California allowed to happen on its campus on the day of the now infamous and canceled Milo Yiannopoulos speech would never be allowed to happen again. As we all are aware, my hopes were dashed as Berkeley, both on and off the University of California campus, has been protest central.
Today on The Truth Report we will examine the repeated protests that have been very successful in suppressing freedom of speech in Berkeley, California. Let’s start with some history:
On February 1, conservative activist Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to make a speech at the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to the speech, more than 100 UC Berkeley faculty signed a petition urging the university to cancel the event which was scheduled to be a speech on immigration. Apparently, the faculty does not believe in freedom of speech if the speech is not within the boundaries set by the faculty.
Within several hours of the scheduled event start time, some protestors identifying themselves as members of BAMN (by any means necessary), and others from Antifa (antifascist) set fires, damaged property, threw fireworks, attacked members of the crowd, and threw rocks at the police. Many of the rioters were clad in black, wore masks, carried clubs, bottles, fireworks and mace. Within twenty minutes of the start of the violence, the Yiannopoulos event was officially canceled by the university police department due to security concerns, and protesters were ordered to disperse, but they didn’t disperse. Rioting continued for hours, and the police did nothing, just as they were instructed to do. Among those assaulted were a Syrian Muslim who was pepper sprayed and hit with a rod by a protester who said “you look like a Nazi”, and a white woman who was pepper sprayed while being interviewed by a TV reporter. One person was arrested for failure to disperse, and there was an estimated $100,000 in damages.
It is important to note that the campus police were specifically instructed not to intervene to stop the rioting or the violence that accompanied it! In spite of setting fires, spray painting “f___ Trump” on buildings (the f word was spelled out) breaking windows, and heads, only one to three arrests were made, we are still not sure on the number.
A pro-President Trump march in Berkeley on March 4 resulted in seven injuries and ten arrests after confrontations with anti-Trump protesters. Police confiscated weapons from attendees of the rally including baseball bats, bricks, metal pipes, and a dagger.
On April 15, several groups held a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley and were met by anti-Trump protesters. The supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with members of the leftist group Antifa. The meeting of the two groups soon erupted in violence, with Antifa using mace, m80’s, and various other weapons to attack trump supporters. At Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park a large number of fights broke out, smoke bombs and m80 fireworks were thrown into the crowds, and pepper spray was used repeatedly. Eleven people were injured, six of whom were hospitalized, including one person who was stabbed. Police seized a handful of cans of pepper spray, some knives, and dozens of sign and flag poles, skateboards, and other blunt objects from members of the crowd.
One Antifa supported posted this online: “I know getting firearms in states and cities we have a presence in is usually a hassle, but even handguns would help. It would certainly put a psychological element in while holding fash back. Who do you think a fascist is more afraid of? People with only flags and bats, or people with flags, bats, and guns?”
On April 18, 2017 administrators at UC Berkeley canceled a planned April 27 appearance on the campus by conservative columnist Ann Coulter citing safety concerns. Coulter tweeted on April 19 that she would be coming to Berkeley to speak on that date regardless. On April 20, the university stated that they would host Coulter on May 2nd at a “protected venue” that would be disclosed at a later date. Coulter declined to reschedule, noting that she was unavailable on May 2nd and that UC Berkeley had no classes scheduled for that week, and said she would hold her speech on April 27th with or without the university’s consent. She later said that she did not intend to speak, but said she might attend the April 27th event.
There was concern the gathering would turn violent based on social media feeds of militant left-wing and right-wing activists abuzz with plans to proceed with demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over the Coulter-Berkeley controversy. The international socialist organization organized an “alt-right delete” rally at Sproul Plaza. About 150 people attended the rally and 70 police officers monitored the situation. Several hundred attended a “freedom of speech” rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley. Gavin Mcinnes read Ann Coulter’s speech on immigration. The demonstrations were relatively peaceful; there was some tension as two people were arrested, one for a weapons violation and the other for drug possession.
Following the February 1st protest, a lawyer representing a local police union criticized the police administration for their “hands off” policy which prevented officers from preventing crime or making arrests. A police representative responded that they did not want to further escalate violence, and that the campus police were inexperienced in dealing with these now common black bloc strategies or masked black clad protestors. According to Berkeley police chief Margo Bennett, they were waiting for reinforcements to come from Oakland police and the Alameda county sheriff before dispersing the crowds. This cover story has been contradicted by the fact that reinforcements never arrived, and some police admitted that they were told to stand down.
Following the February events, President Trump criticized the UC Berkeley on twitter, asserting that it “does not allow free speech” and threatening to de-fund the university. According to Yiannopoulos’ Facebook post, he plans to return to Berkeley “hopefully within the next few months.”
I want to leave with this video of highlights from several riots with many of the Antifa shown with their black masks and outfits.
It is terribly disturbing that our cherished first amendment which protects the right of free speech, has clearly been suppressed and transformed into freedom from speech, if that speech is not OK with the faculty, student body or their Antifa supporters in and around Berkeley, California.
Stay in touch, we will be following up on this story! You can write to me directly by sending me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And go to our website where you can sign up to be on our mailing list so you never miss an important episode. You can handle the truth, we intend to bring it to you, I’m Barry Nussbaum.