After protests at UC Berkeley against prominent alt-right figure and Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, President Trump questioned on Twitter whether federal funds would be pulled from the university.
The protests began last night, when about 1,500 people gathered ahead of a planned speech from Yiannopoulos, according to the Los Angeles Times. Protestors smashed windows and sparked a fire on campus before university police canceled the event, putting all campus buildings on lockdown.
Yiannopoulos, who rose to prominence online by promoting Gamergate, may still be best known for an incident last year, when he incited abuse against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, prompting Twitter to ban him from the service. He has been a prominent Trump supporter, and has ties to Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who was formerly executive chair of Breitbart News.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
It’s not clear how concrete Trump’s threat to remove funding was, or how he would try to remove the funding, saying only he would attempt to if Berkeley “does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view.”
Despite the suggestion in Trump’s tweet that the university somehow allowed the protests, UC Berkeley issued a statement condemning the tactics used on campus. A spokesperson for the university told the Los Angeles Times, “This is not a proud night for this campus, the home of the free speech movement.”