Pedo Milo in Berkeley
So, apparently I forgot to write this up. Silly me. Anyway back on February 2nd, the UC Berkeley college Republicans invited internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos to come and speak. The event itself was very quickly sold out, but that didn't mean that we couldn't attend because what would be more fun to troll the troll here after all? Isn't that what free speech is really all about? So, around 6pm during my lunch hour I headed over to Spraul Plaza to document the goings on since that was about the time they were suppose to start letting folks into MLK for the event. Protests had started roughly speaking about 2 hours earlier. I had come down Bancroft Way and as I turned into Spraul Plaza I caught sight of a few things. First, alot of protesters as a whole. A lot of barricades around MLK but not a lot of UC cops as a whole, but oddly enough no one in line to get into MLK. And lastly I walked onto Spraul Plaza with about a dozen folks who were all dressed up in jeans and black hoodies. Hmmm
The above photo was one of the first I snapped and was probably the rear face of Protest at UC Berkeley that night, The overwhelming number of protesters had began to show up between 4 to 6 pm. This is the face of real protest for UC Berkeley. And up to this time, no violence what so ever had occurred, but come 6pm things began to change. Remember how I said I walked onto Spraul Plaza with a bunch of folks with black hoodies? well that was another face or group that came to protest, but not like any other.
That was because the night was about to hijacked by local group of semi-anarchists who wanted to shut down the event by all means necessary. The photo above was taken before any hostilities began. The group persay is Black Bloc and at least locally is made up young white kids. I'd hard pressed to say that any of them were over 25 years old from what I could tell, but then again I didn't actually meet every single one of them either. They wore dark generally non discript clothing and covered their faces. Mainly to keep from being identified, but also protect one self from pepper spray and some of the effects of tear gas. By about 6:15 they numbered about 50-75 in a crowd of maybe 300+ protesters. They quickly took police barricades and began to rattle the cage whole as a group commanding center stage in calling out Milo to shut down the event. It was to say, well orchestrated political theater.
While I hadn't really tried to do it, I found myself right behind the main group as they began to pull aside the police barriers. I got in a few good shots, close up of the mayhem to say the least, but also found myself being shoved and at one point one of the folks even threw a half hearted punch to get me stop photographing.
I quickly retreated and circled around the mayhem and started to document as singular acts of what was a riot. First, Black Bloc had brought along some fire works, mainly roman candles that used to get the UC cops to retreat into MLK. They also showered a few protesters, so occasionally the UC cops would have to come back out and pull folks in who had been injured. The UC cops themselve were in riot gear and pretty much immune to the negative effects of the roman candles. Once the UC cops were in doors, individual Black Bloc folks would charge building, first throwing bricks and other implements they had brought along in order to break down the large plexiglass windows. This went on for about 5 minutes while a few UC cops took to the 2nd floor balcony and began rain pepper spray down on those of us below. Ya, I was hit by little bit of peppersray and I have to say that effects at range were pretty weak. I don't think the UC cop was trying to hit me though as it happened a guy with a flare was running by and threw it at the building. But a certain point the more robust members of Black Bloc figured out that you could easily pick up discarded police barricades and use them as battering rams against the windows on the ground floor of MLK. So that was the next stage of this political theater.
After Black Bloc broke enough windows and breached the building, oddly enough they never really entered. Mayhem was in order, but really having a tussle with UC cops didn't seem to be part of this show. Black Bloc then moved to knock over shit as they could, which wasn't a lot and mainly generator with 4 large lights on it that had been illuminating Spraul Plaza. Afterwards the UC cops came out on the 2nd floor balcony in force (maybe dozen of so) and informed the crowd that the event had been cancelled and they gave warning for everyone to leave. This of course only emboldened the crowd.
What I mean by emboldening here was that generator had pushed over beginning to leak gasoline all over the place and at some point some one thought it would make a nice bonfire. It actually took 5 minutes or so for the fire to catch all the spilled in that time the large crowd of paparazzi was very active on the event. Oy Vay. The next half hour was more political theater, as folks danced and taunted the UC cops all around the funereal pyre that was once a generated burned long and bright and also torched the tree next it. Oy Vay. Come 7pm, I was done and headed back to work.