(In These Times) -- On February 1, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos had planned to speak at the University of California, Berkeley. Thanks to more than 1,500 students and other protesters (including myself as a student organizer), he didn’t get that opportunity.
Contrary to reports in the mainstream media, the decisive factor in stopping Yiannopoulos wasn’t the broken windows and fires started by a small Black Bloc contingent. It was the courageous presence of ordinary people who were unwilling to allow the Berkeley campus to be used as an organizing space for the far Right. When protesters rejected orders to disperse, police admitted defeat and canceled the event.
In the aftermath, the right-wing and liberal punditocracy charged the protesters with violating Yiannopoulos’ right to speak. Thousands of peaceful protesters were ignored, dismissed as dupes of “outside agitators,” or lumped together into the “violent protesters” smear. Most press didn’t bother exploring why the 1,500 protesters were there, or why protesters hadn’t demanded the university administration cancel the event beforehand (and thus restrict the right to free speech).
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