Police: Fires, fights reported in protests

A large fire in Sproul Plaza, surrounded by protesters. Photo: Byron Villacis

Update, 1 a.m. The University of California Police Department declared the campus lockdown closed shortly before 11 p.m.: “Routine campus business and classes will be held tomorrow.”

Update, 10:30 p.m. Following the fighting and vandalism in downtown Berkeley, demonstrators moved back to the South Campus area near Bancroft and Telegraph. Berkeley Police said about 200 demonstrators were still involved. Estimates of the cost of the damage in downtown Berkeley, around Telegraph, and on the campus, will not be available until Thursday. Berkeley public works staff is in the downtown now cleaning up and boarding windows.

Property damage in downtown Berkeley after the Milo event was canceled. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 9:30 p.m. BPD is getting reports that people “are vandalizing businesses in the 2000 block of Center Street” as hundreds walk eastbound toward UC Berkeley’s West Crescent.

Update, 9:18 p.m. From BPD just now: “We are now receiving reports that persons are setting fires to banks in the area Center Street & Shattuck Avenue as well as more fighting in the crowds.”


Update, 9:12 p.m. Reports just now from the streets that “downtown at Center and Shattuck completely packed and blocked.”

Kevin Kunz captured this video of a fire at Wells Fargo.

Update, 9:09 p.m. Pieter Sittler of the Berkeley College Republicans issued the following statement Wednesday night: “The Free Speech Movement is dead. Today, the Berkeley College Republicans’ constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs seeking to cancel Milo Yiannopoulos’ tour. Their success is a defeat for civilized society and the free exchange of ideas on college campuses across America. We would like to thank UCPD and the university administration for doing all they could to ensure the safety of everyone involved. It is tragic that the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement is also its final resting place.”

Update, 9:01 p.m. BPD is getting reports “of persons vandalizing businesses on Shattuck Avenue—as the group of 200-300 persons walk northbound on Shattuck Avenue towards University Avenue.”

Update, 8:43 p.m. UCPD has just announced that its shelter-in-place warning is still in effect. BPD has gotten unconfirmed reports of a possible hit-and-run crash involving a white BMW at Durant and Telegraph avenues. Someone may have been struck but no victims have been located, BPD says. (As it turns out, the crash was captured on video by Michael Bodley of the San Francisco Chronicle.)


UCPD is advising members of the campus community to shelter in place because of the continued demonstrations and due to “debris scattered around from the violent attacks.”

Meanwhile, Daniel McPartlan captured this video of a person at Wednesday night’s demonstration being hit in the head with a bike lock.

Update, 8:26 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department says it has gotten reports of 3-4 injuries from fights, as well as vandalism reports from businesses: “We are now receiving reports that a group of hundreds are now walking southbound on Telegraph Avenue.” Police are still saying they may need to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Update, 8:10 p.m. A group of masked protesters, not affiliated with UC Berkeley, has started to march to Oakland, chanting, “Whose streets?! Our streets!” reports Carlo David for Berkeleyside. The university administration also released a statement strongly condemning the violence, which it said would “now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives.”

Update, 7:39 p.m. BPD reports that “emergency responders may need to use tear gas to disperse the demonstrators” on and near the UC Berkeley campus. Authorities say those in the area bounded by Bancroft Way, Shattuck Avenue, College Avenue, and Dwight Way “should avoid the area.” Police say tear gas may be needed “because of the violent nature of some of the persons in the demonstration.”


Update, 7:23 p.m. Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel reports that police have been inside UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom but have recently come out, causing numerous people to run from the area near Bancroft and Telegraph. UCPD reported at 7:12 p.m., “Due to violent demonstration, additional resources are being brought in. Cal students should leave the area immediately.”

The Berkeley Police Department has reported fights within the crowd along Telegraph Avenue corridor, with the crowd estimated at 1,000 as of shortly before 7 p.m. BPD said protesters have thrown firecrackers and bricks at officers, and there have been reports of aluminum bats and makeshift shields.

Update, 7 p.m. UCPD has issued a stay away order for the area around Bancroft and Telegraph. Follow Berkeleyside’s Twitter feed for regular updates on the protests in the aftermath of the cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulis talk on the UC Berkeley campus.

Update, 6:30 p.m. UCPD said, at 6:16 p.m., that “Milo has left campus,” and reports that all campus buildings are on lockdown: “Shelter in place if on campus.” UCPD says updates regarding the lockdown and shelter in place warning are forthcoming. Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel is also heading to the scene.

Update 6:15 p.m. The planned talk by Milo Yiannopoulis has been canceled, reports Carlo David for Berkeleyside. Protesters are cheering the decision.

Update 6:05 p.m. According to Carlo David, protesters in black are tearing down barricades and have fired pyrotechnics towards UC police.

After the barricade was broken down, many protesters burst into cheers, David reports. Smoke fills Sproul Plaza.

Berkeley Police have issued a Nixle alert warning about “violent demonstrations” in the South Campus area.

Sproul Hall lights up with LGBTQ community colors in anticipation of Yiannopoulos event. Photo: Carlo David

Original story: Controversial far right political provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos will be speaking tonight in UC Berkeley’s MLK Student Union, next to Sproul Plaza, and protesters are out in force. That means helicopters are hovering over Berkeley, too.

Author and Berkeley resident Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, at about 5:30 p.m., “Helicopters everywhere over Berkeley! Pointed out to husband who said, ‘Has T***p invaded Mexico?'”

According to UC Berkeley’s news office, “The Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) will be presenting a performance by Milo Yiannopoulos in the Pauley Ballroom, located on the second floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building.” The event begins at 8 p.m.

In a communication to students earlier Wednesday, UCB encouraged “students who do not wish to participate in or potentially be impacted by the events to consider exploring alternative routes that avoid the Sproul Plaza area.”

University spokesman Dan Mogulof told Berkeleyside Cal has “made concerted efforts” to ensure campus safety, in part through contact with other campuses to learn about their experiences of similar events. He said he could not share specific security measures that would be taken by the University of California Police Department.

“The department was provided with all the resources they need,” based on a professional assessment, to ensure the security of those attending the event, and those coming to protest it, he said.

The university did bring in officers from other UC campuses to ensure adequate resources would be available, he said. UCPD is also in touch with the Berkeley Police Department, but Mogulof said those officers are not on campus and would only be needed if security demands exceed UCPD’s capacity to respond.

Berkeleyside has a reporter and photographers on the scene, and a story is forthcoming.

Student groups and others begin to assemble to protest Yiannopoulos event. Photo: Carlo David

Reporting for Berkeleyside, Carlo David said at about 5:20 p.m. that “No Milo, No Trump, No fascist USA!” chants echoed through Sproul Plaza an hour before gates have even opened for the Yiannopoulos event.

UC Berkeley’s Office of Student Affairs wrote to the leadership of the Berkeley College Republicans on Tuesday, noting, “I am deeply aware of the many complex issues that are swirling around Milo’s visit to our campus and you no doubt have a lot on your plates right now. I must now also make sure you are aware that Milo, Brietbart and the David Horowitz Freedom Center have published an article today, 1/31/17, stating their intention to use the Berkeley College Republican’s event to launch their campaign targeting the undocumented student community on our campus.”

The message continues:

There are concerns that he will be employing the strategies of using pictures and personal information of Cal students during his speech which, as you know, is simultaneously being live-streamed therefore making these images widely available and subsequently putting students at risk.

There are concerns that he will be employing the strategies of using pictures and personal information of Cal students during his speech which, as you know, is simultaneously being  live-streamed therefore making these images widely available and subsequently putting students at risk.

Also, please know other targeted groups on our campus have experienced Horowitz’ tactic of publicizing the names and pictures of individuals on posters throughout campus property and there is a likelihood that there will be Horowitz-backed posters pasted throughout our campus tomorrowpublicizing the Milo event in conjunction with targeted individual’s names.

BCR has expressed their position condemning these tactics and, in fact, have been victimized themselves. We are deeply concerned for all students’ safety and ability to pursue their education here at Cal beyond Milo’s speech. At the bottom of this email are campus resources for reporting incidents.

Please let me know your thoughts on what BCR can do to address the concerns that Milo’s event may be used to target individuals, either in the audience or by using their personal information in a way that causes them to become human targets to serve a political agenda.  Let me know if I can be a resource in managing this issue.