The trouble began around 6 p.m., two hours before Yiannopoulos was to begin his speech inside the student union building on Sproul Plaza. Protesters outside the building began throwing fireworks and pulling down the metal barricades police set up to keep protesters from rushing inside. Windows were smashed and fires were set outside the building as masked protesters stormed it. Police quickly evacuated Yiannopoulos for his own safety.
Berkeley police said five people were injured and some people, including a man who said he had hoped to see Yiannopoulos speak, were seen with their faces bloodied. There were no arrests.
“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley,” Mike Wright of Berkeley College Republicans, the group that invited Yiannopoulos to the campus, said outside the student union building as smoke bombs went off around him.
As he spoke, someone threw a glass bottle of red paint at him. The bottle shattered and splattered paint on his clothing. “It’s sad,” he said.
Protesters argued that what Yiannopoulos specializes in is hate speech, and that it didn’t deserve to be protected.
“It’s not a question of free speech,” a protester said via megaphone, riling up the hundreds of protesters. “It’s about real human beings.”