BERKELEY, Calif. - Violent protests moved through downtown Berkeley Wednesday night after the cancellation of a speaking engagement scheduled for controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
RELATED: Violent protests erupt in Berkeley canceling Yiannopulos event
There were plenty of sub-plots at the protest against Yiannopulos, but also against people who were protecting the suppression of free speech. The conflict arrived in the form of polytechnics, smoke, strife, and anger--not only about the speaker and what he might say, but also about his right to say it, even in the birthplace of the free speech movement.
"Well I carried my sign, Free speech is protected even for Milo," said Mike Sherman, a protester.
The protests began at U.C. Berkeley in front of the Martin Luther King Student Union around 5 p.m. and left only after U.C. Berkeley police threatened to arrest anyone who remained.
As to what happened in between, there may have been 400 active protesters and some 300 people looking on. Some of them came hoping to hear the speech.
Kiara Robles braved the crowd wearing a red "Make Bitcoin Great Again" hat in the style of President Trump's red hats, which made her and our crew a target. The video in the player above shows the graphic exchange between a protester and Robles, who was pepper sprayed. "I'm looking to make a statement by just being here and I think the protesters are doing the same. Props to the ones who are doing it non-violently, but I think that's a very rare thing indeed."
She later told ABC7 News she was alright.
She was not the only person attacked at the protest Wednesday.
"I hope I don't have a broken nose over this," said Joe Scherer, an observer. "The first amendment is fundamental to our Constitution."
By 9 p.m. protesters had taken to the streets of Berkeley carrying protest signs. Some marched while others threw rocks at buildings. A Chase location and a Wells Fargo location were vandalized. Broken glass could be seen flying into the streets from Sky7.
Officials held a news conference while the protests were happening saying it wasn't a proud moment for the city.
The violence and vandalism spread far beyond the school's campus.
U.C. Berkeley police and university officials issued warnings to the students not to exit their dorms. A shelter-in-place was ordered as well.
In a free country with free speech in iconic Berkeley, no matter what a person's politics we were all witness to violence.