Whether manifested as incitement to, or acts of violence and property destruction or political extremism and extremely biased education – University of California, Berkeley seems to have become the epicentre of the American free speech debate once again (but this time, for all the wrong reasons).
In the sixties, Berkeley free speech advocates stood up for their right to express their politics and take part in political activities on campus.
Today, the freedoms they won over fifty years are being trampled once again.
Here are ten reasons not to send your child to UC Berkeley.
The current situation in Berkeley first flared up in February, when Conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was forced to cancel a talk at the university due to rioting.
Members of Anarcho-Syndicalist group Antifa arrived to ‘protest’ the talk, but after fifteen minutes of M80 firecrackers being fired into the event venue and barricades being used to smash windows, police called the talk off.
In the rioting that followed, Antifa members caused $100,000 worth of property damage to local banks, businesses and the university.
Those involved in the disorder exhibited cult like behaviour, including the strange justification of violence as a preemptive measure:
“It’s absolutely acceptable to use violence. They are 100% certain to use it against us.”
The event even warranted a reaction from US President Donald Trump.
Yvette Felarca is a leading figure in the group By Any Means Necessary, but when she’s not assaulting people she disagrees with, she works as a middle school teacher for the Berkeley Unified School District.
Felarca was present at the Milo riot, and first entered national consciousness when she defended the use of violence in an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News.
The interview began with a clip of Felarca assaulting a man at a Washington protest in 2016.
During the conversation with Carlson, Felarca denounced Fascism (but failed to define it accurately) and accused Milo of trying to recruit for a Fascist movement.
Felarca also went as far as to accuse the journalist of calling for “the mass murder of millions of people” – along with further accusations of incitement to racism, misogyny and rape.
According to the Berkeleyside local news website, reporting days after the deranged interview: “The phones, voicemail machines and email inboxes at the Berkeley Unified School District have been flooded with calls about Felarca”.
Following the appearance on Fox, the petition to have Felarca fired gained a sudden 4,000 signatures in two days.
Felarca has a history of trouble with her employers, having previously had a whole month of pay deducted to make up for her use of sick leave to attend protests, and having been accused of making threats and taking her middle school students to political events.
Diversity of Everything But Thought
The university is majority Asian, and the proportion of women students only slightly outnumber men.
Of course, diversity is of great importance to the modern university, but one area in which UC Berkeley seems unable to maintain a policy of diversity is that of thought.
If only the diversity of thought and room for debate was as excellent as other areas, the establishment surely wouldn’t be running up against it’s current PR problems.
Support for Domestic Terror
In October 2016, the UC Berkeley Law Students of African Descent (LSAD) group took part in a demonstration to show solidarity for Black Lives Matter – the movement notorious for it’s illegal blocking of traffic, racially motivated violence and anti-police rhetoric.
According to a spokesperson for the group, their aim is to “continue to raise awareness and keep the conversation going about police brutality and its staggering effects on communities of color.”
As noble as the aims of the LSAD students may be, they must realise that they are siding with a group often accused (and not without evidence) of being a domestic terror organisation.
They must, too, realise that they are in solidarity with a group who attacks civilians and police alike for the crime of merely being white.
Another progressive group often accused of domestic terror have taken even sturdier root at UC Berkeley – the aforementioned, Antifa.
Following the havoc caused by Antifa in February, they returned even more determined not to allow their political opponents to speak this April.
The ‘free speech rally’ held on campus on April 15 featured conservative speakers such as Lauren Southern of Rebel Media.
During the event, violence broke out among the Antifa protest as the radical group threw M80 explosives and bricks (and at least one mortar) into crowds of event goers.
As the afternoon unfolded, events were filmed by independent journalist Tim Pool and streamed live to YouTube.
Watching the footage, you will see at least one Antifa member with a knife, skateboards and wooden poles used to beat people and pepper spray used as a weapon on rally attendees.
(It’s been alleged that plastic bags were used in attempts to suffocate Antifa victims too.)
The violence was hardly a surprise, given the threats directed towards journalists and organisers, not to mention the Antifa propaganda leading up to the event.
Arguably the most troubling group to make their presence known at Berkeley are By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).
The radically left-wing political group was formed in 1995 and has been tied to some very nefarious activity during it’s 22 year existence.
Since 2005, BAMN has been linked to terrorism during investigations by the FBI, Michigan Police Department and the Department of Defence.
BAMN members were also seen on video assaulting people during the Sacramento riots in 2016 – ten people were hospitalised with stab wounds.
BAMN were present at both the February and April riots at UC Berkeley, and group leader Yvette Felarca was accused of her most recent violent outburst when throwing rocks at civilians on April 15.
BAMN are a self described militant group, but beyond that they have been repeatedly accused of being a cult.
The website Secret Survivors of BAMN features cautionary accounts of violence enacted upon dissident members and even one disturbing account of a group member who was cut off from his family, made to live in a communal house with other BAMN members and only escaped by (literally) fighting his way out of the house.
One name which comes up (yet again) in the harrowing account is – you guessed it – Felarca.
BAMN founder and Dear Leader Shanta Driver has been accused of libel and harassment by former group members, and open racism by others.
She also defended Felarca and Berkely Mayor Jesse Arreguin (who we’ll come to in a moment) at a demonstration in February, claiming that BAMN violence and property damage amounted to “speaking out”.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin comes to appear more crooked and radical by the day.
Controversy first arose when Arreguin accused Milo Yiannopoulos of being a “white nationalist” (for which he had to later apologise), and increased when a policeman took to Reddit to accuse Arreguin of telling law enforcement to stand down rather than taking preventative measures during the February rioting.
Arreguin also made his opposition to free speech in universities quite clear on Twitter that same month:
The Mayor was also found to be friends with Yvette Felarca on Facebook, and furthermore a member of the BAMN Facebook group – an unbecoming alliance between a politician and an extreme pseudo-political cult.
Lack of Law Enforcement
As previously mentioned, police stood down in February despite the massive threat to public safety, violence and destruction enacted by members of Antifa and BAMN.
In light of that fact, it was even more damning when police repeated their lack of intervention during the chaos of April 15.
Police officers were seen sitting in their cars and vans as rioters assaulted free speech activists and ran amok once again.
Two police officers interviewed on the day seemed displeased with their inaction, and when asked why they were hanging back they replied “that would be a good question for the Chief of Police.”
It seems that once again, orders not to intervene had come from the top.
Two days later, Empty reported this:
“It has come to light today that the Berkeley Police Department website features a bizarre offer for “symbolic arrests” in it’s Event Planning section.”
The Berkeley Police Department website features (to this day) an offer of symbolic arrests, presumably a service to ensure attention for protests and causes.
This is of course, a misuse of public money and an abuse of power – furthermore it is yet another in the list of indictments against Berkeley PD.
University Political Bias
In 2017, the political bias of the faculty, student groups and surrounding academic culture of UC Berkeley is very clear.
Dissent is not tolerated, even if it takes the form of advocacy for free speech or mild conservativism.
This makes UC Berkeley far from unique in today’s climate of safe spaces and squashed discourse.
It is far from a new thing for UC Berkeley, however.
In 2012, The Daily Californian reported that leftism was leading to ‘skewed education’ at the university.
The article was a reaction to a report by the California Association of Scholars, which found that the political bias of the establishment had lead to a “decrease in the quality of academic teaching, analysis and research at the university.”
Shawn Lewis, then President of the Berkeley College Republicans (the same group currently taking legal action against the university for related free speech issues) remarked:
“I think the report simply raises the undeniable reality that many of our UC campuses are failing to truly encourage a marketplace of ideas from all ideological backgrounds.”
According to the article: “The report also states that UC campuses silence minority opinions.”
It seems that in the 5 years since this article, the censorial nature of Berkeley academia has only grown more oppressive.
The Berkeley Cult
The tenth and final reason not to let your children anywhere near the University of California, Berkeley is not a standalone point in itself, but the atmosphere formed by the culmination of the nine previous points.
Why would parents knowingly allow their sons and daughters to enter an establishment where their voices will not be heard, where they will face violence and coercion; and all the while know that they cannot rely on the protection of law enforcement?
That is a question that the next generation of American lawyers, psychologists, researchers, artists and leaders are asking themselves when considering which school to go to.
It is a question that the UC Berkeley leadership and administration must surely be asking themselves right now, in light of their tarnished reputations.
The honest answer is: nobody in their right mind would send their kids to a place like that.
Every time Berkeley erupts into violence and fails to address the extremists involved, a little more of the reputation of that (once great) establishment is eroded.
Rest in Peace UC Berkeley: former proud university, now hot bed of extremism and intolerance.