Posted by on February 1, 2017
Categories: Bay Area

photo: Scott Morris

photo: Scott Morris – on-scene at U.C. Berkeley

photo: Scott Morris

photo: Scott Morris – on-scene at U.C. Berkeley

(BANT) – Police at the University of California at Berkeley have placed the campus on lockdown and asked residents to stay away from the area amid a tense protest at a planned speaking event by controversial far-right writer and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos this evening.

A shelter-in-place order has been issued for the area due to the protest, which police described as a “dangerous situation.” They announced a dispersal order on Twitter at 6:45 p.m., but as of 6:55 p.m. there were few officers on the plaza to enforce it.

The event barricades were breached and used to smash the windows of the campus bookstore, where the entrance to the event was located. A large fire has been burning in front of the building. It briefly spread to a nearby tree.

The barricades directly in front of the bookstore were dismantled by protesters in masks. Many from the crowd have gathered on the bookstore’s steps.

Hundreds of protesters were observed at this evening’s event. Over 2,100 people responded to a Facebook post that they would be attending.

Yiannopoulos’s events have drawn tense protests throughout the country, including a recent event that was canceled shortly before it was scheduled to begin at the University of California at Davis due to angry protests outside.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said today that the university Police Department called in officers from other UC campuses in the area, including Davis, and could ask for help from Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office if necessary.

He said that they have studied how the protests have escalated at other campuses and planned accordingly.

“The concerted effort was to really take a close look at lessons learned at other events,” Mogulof said.

After being invited by Berkeley College Republicans, students at UC Berkeley called for the school to cancel the event and ban Yiannopoulos from the campus.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks responded to the outcry with an open letter to the campus community last week, affirming that Yiannopoulos would be allowed to speak because of the free speech rights of the campus Republicans, but said that Yiannopoulos’s message is at odds with the values of the campus.

Dirks called him a “troll” and “provocateur.” Critics have said that Yiannopoulos is misogynistic, anti-Islam and racist. Campus republicans called him “amusing and provocative” in the event invitation.

Yiannopoulos has been a journalist for right-wing news publication Breitbart under Steve Bannon, now an advisor to President Donald Trump. He has a book coming out later this year published by Simon & Schuster, a deal that was widely protested.

Tonight’s event was sold out.

Yiannopoulos issued a statement about the turmoil at this evening’s event on Facebook.

“I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building,” Yiannopoulos said.

“My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled. I’ll let you know more when the facts become clear. One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”