Milo Yiannopoulos talk draws protest of more than 200 at CU Boulder, police detain three

About 200 people protested Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ talk at CU Boulder Wednesday night, standing outside of the Mathematics building holding signs and chanting for several hours. Protests were violent at times, and three were detained and ticketed but not arrested, according to the Daily Camera. One is shown above in the video.

Most of the protesters were there in opposition to the alt-right speaker, but some people were there in support of him and of President Donald Trump. One Trump supporter carried a sign saying “CNN lies,” another with one that read “feminism is a cancer” (a popular saying of Yiannopoulos’). Another was draped in a Confederate flag. Yiannopoulos was brought to campus by the CU Boulder College Republicans and the campus chapter of conservative group Turning Point USA.

But the majority of the crowd was protesting Yiannopoulos’ talk, and carried signs with messages like “Just because Milo hates himself doesn’t mean you have to,” “Hate speech ≠ free speech,” “This is not normal,” and “CU doesn’t support marginalized students — looking at you (Chancellor Philip) DiStefano.” Yiannopoulos has had speaking events canceled by multiple universities for security concerns and for creating a hostile campus environment.

Yiannopoulos’ event has been controversial on the Boulder campus for nearly two months, and prompted three student petitions and one faculty letter to the chancellor in December. Often inflammatory, he was banned from Twitter in July for inciting remarks about black actor Leslie Jones.

The protesters chanted through the night, saying things like “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.” Protesters also chanted “Fuck these Nazis” and “This is what a police state looks like.” At times, conflicting groups of protesters and counter-protesters would chant “Black lives matter” and “Blue lives matter” at each other. The alt-right has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism, according to the Associated Press.

Many of the protesters were CU students, but a small group came from Boulder’s Fairview High School, and others were adult community members. A large number of protesters wearing black clothing and face masks were present, but stated that they did not all belong to the same organization. They had come from multiple cities, including Boulder, Longmont and Denver. Throughout the night they burned Nazi flags, Confederate flags and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats on the lawn in from of the Math building.

There were no serious injuries, but several altercations broke out among protesters and counter-protesters. At least two Trump supporters had their phones broken in separate incidents, and multiple individuals’ hats were stolen. Tensions occasionally flared but rarely escalated above verbal arguing.

There was a substantial police presence at the protest, with approximately two dozen officers from Boulder Police Department behind a barricade in front of the building. Their presence was lighter at the beginning, but as the night progressed, more officers arrived wearing riot gear. Officers were armed with pepper spray, batons and what appeared to be a paint gun, but none of these were used on protesters. CU Police Department and the Boulder Sheriff’s office were also on the scene.

Yiannopoulos’ talk began at 7 p.m., but protestors arrived at the building he was speaking in well before 6 p.m. Audience members began to leave the talk around 8:45 p.m., at which point some protesters harassed them. Protesters began to disperse slowly after that, with a contingent heading to U.S. Highway 36 to march.

Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Carina Julig at carina.julig@colorado.edu.

Video by CU Independent Assistant Visuals Editor Jesse Hughes, jchughes93@colorado.edu.

Carina Julig

Carina Julig serves as the managing editor of the CU Independent. A junior majoring in journalism and political science, she formerly interned at the Boulder Daily Camera and studied journalism abroad in the Balkans. She is a California native and cut her teeth in student journalism at her San Diego high school.

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