Trump Threatens to Cut UC Berkeley's Funding After Protests Lead to Cancellation of Yiannopoulos Talk

A speech at University of California, Berkeley by Breitbart editor and notorious troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, was cancelled Wednesday night amid protests that turned violent. The following morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter and threatened to withdraw federal funding from the university.

Yiannopoulos is well-known across the internet for his inflammatory conservative views, including the denunciation of rape culture as a myth and a belief that transgender people are mentally ill. He was banned from Twitter last year for his role harassing Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones. He is currently on a speaking tour of colleges across the country. Already, one speech at UC Davis was canceled in response to protests.

According to The Los Angeles Times, UC Berkeley was determined to have Yiannopoulos speak as scheduled, even going so far as to bring in extra police officers from other University of California campuses. But with over 1,500 protesters assembled, the university decided to cancel the event two hours before Yiannopoulos even arrived on campus.

The protest, organized on Facebook by Bay Area Socialist Alternative, was largely peaceful, but as BuzzFeed News reported, small groups wearing black and identifying as anti-fascists were largely responsible for the more violent happenings. ATMs were smashed and vandalized and, at one point, a light fixture was toppled, causing a small fire. According to The Huffington Post, students were advised to shelter in place as the campus went into lockdown.

UC Berkeley was quick to condemn the violence. Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesman told The L.A. Times, "We thoroughly condemn the violence and lawless behavior and we deeply regret that the actions of a few trampled on the 1st Amendment rights of others.” The Berkeley College Republicans, the group behind the event, released a statement lamenting that their “constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs.” Yiannopoulos was also quick to blame the “violent left-wing protestors” in a statement on Facebook and said, “One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.” And then the president waded into the mix.

The University of California system receives billions of dollars each year from the federal government in support of various programs across all ten of their campuses. UC Berkeley alone receives nearly $8.5 billion for education, research and healthcare. Following the president’s tweet, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued a statement condemning the violence while still standing firm against Trump. “President Donald Trump cannot bully our university into silence,” Lee’s statement read. “Simply put, President Trump’s empty threat to cut funding from UC Berkeley is an abuse of power.”