Berkeley Burns

By A. Iwasa

On Wednesday February 1st thousands of people participated in the successful shutdown of so-called Alt Right speaker, editor and writer Milo Yiannopolous at the University of California-Berkeley (Cal).  As a witness of the events, I strongly believe that what actually shut down the talk was the dozens of people who attacked the building Yiannopolous was supposed to speak in. We sent the message loud and clear:  his anti-immigrant and anti-feminist views are not welcome in the East Bay.

As should probably be expected, Yiannopolous, one of the Berkeley College Republicans and local corporate media reporters all denounced the direct actionists as repressive, and bemoaned that this happened at the home of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) on the evening news.

This is a very interesting way to try to flip the script considering the FSM was started in the struggle to spread the word about the Civil Rights Movement.  Many of the participants in the FSM were later involved in a direct action campaign to kick a Navy recruiter off campus starting with a sit down protest around the recruiter’s table and culminating in the 1966 student strike.

Studying the rise of fascism in Europe and what it led to indicates why people of conscience should feel moved to stop events such as the Yiannopolous talk, part of a tour that was also shutdown in Los Angeles and Davis, California.

Much like the Tinley Park 5’s participation in shutting down a white nationalists’ economic summit in Chicagoland, I think Cal’s Black Bloc are heroes and should be given awards for helping make February 1st the most beautiful night in Berkeley so far this year.

As Chris Crass wrote the next day in “The Time of ‘Never Again’ is Now” for the Anarres Project, “It’s crucial to remember that no one looks back at Germany during the rise of the Nazis and says, ‘well at least they respected the Nazi’s freedom of speech’. They say, ‘Never Again’.”