Berkeley Riots


Protesters were seen marching outside the campus site.

Lily Rajaee, Editor

Freedom of Speech has the subject of many political arguments in today’s modern society. Ever since the recent election cycle, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of riots and protests around the nation. One of the most notable protests that made its way into the media was the riot at the University of California Berkeley, the first one being after Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak on campus. Milo is a highly controversial speaker, whose ideologies are often labeled as racist and unjust. This British speaker has served as a guest speaker in many events, where he has openly critiqued the ideas of feminism and also Islam.


While many do not agree with Milo’s ideology, there is also a fair argument made by some that says Milo should have been able to speak at UC Berkeley because he is entitled to the right of free speech. Protests around UC Berkeley became so rowdy and vocal that Milo’s event was canceled for fear of his safety.


Also, a similar scenario unfolded recently when Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her event at Berkeley because she could not find a safe location. The police in Berkeley feared that having such a conservative speaker would put the students in harms way because they did not have an adequate amount of time to prepare for such a large event. Also, the police were not eager to deal with another event that ended like the Milo incident.


Surely, it is the police’s role to make sure it is making the decision that will keep the most amount of people safe and protected. While many people are critiquing the university for inhibiting the expression of free speech, others are praising the police for taking into account the best interest of people’s safety. Sumesh Rawal (12) said, “I think it’s important to respect the police’s judgement.”


What is most upsetting to people is the fact that UC Berkeley has always been a symbol of free speech and equality of opportunity. After 1964, students at Berkeley became spokespeople for the idea of lifting the ban on expression of speech. The first amendment should ensure that all individuals have the right to be speakers, even if their ideas are radical and not agreed with by many viewers. UC Berkeley has announcers several statements about how they are saddened by the recent course of events and hope to be able to host conservative speakers in a safe environment.