The University of California at Berkeley went into lockdown on Wednesday amid a violent protest over a planned appearance by a right-wing speaker, with demonstrators throwing barricades, setting fires and lighting firecrackers.
School officials said on Twitter after the protest erupted that the speech by far-right Breibart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos had been cancelled and that the campus was on lockdown.
President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, previously headed Breibart News and CNN reported that many of the protesters voiced opposition to the Republican president.
Many of Trump’s executive orders and proposed policies, including his suspension of the US refugee program and temporary ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, have been met by largely peaceful protests and marches that have drawn tens of thousands of people across the United States.
Police ordered protesters at the liberal-leaning university to disperse and a short time later at least one fire erupted when protesters ignited a light generator outside the student union, according to CNN, which broadcast footage of the demonstration.
Protesters tossed metal barricades through windows at the same building and threw firecrackers and rocks, according to CNN. The crowd appeared to number in the hundreds.
One protester held a sign that said “No Safe Space for Racists” while other protesters danced to hip hop music, footage from a Facebook Live feed showed.
Yiannopoulos, whose account on Twitter was suspended last year after he was accused of participating in the online harassment of an African-American actress, criticized “the Left”, saying in a statement it was “absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”
He also said on Fox News that he was evacuated by police after protesters began throwing rocks and other objects at the building.
“Obviously it’s a liberal campus so they hate any libertarians or conservatives who dare to express an opinion on their campuses. They particularly don’t like me,” he told the network.