Conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos had been invited to speak last week at the University of California’s Berkeley campus. At the reported direction of campus police, university officials canceled the speech, citing public safety concerns, after a violent protest resulted in a reported six injuries and over $100,000 in property damage. Days earlier, a letter had been sent to the UC Board of Regents, expressing concern over “a sharp rise in hateful, intolerant acts directed at individuals holding divergent ideological and political viewpoints.”
Spearheaded by campus anti-Semitism watchdog AMCHA Initiative and co-signed by 47 education, Jewish and civil rights groups—including the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law—the letter urged UC administrators to “implement the Regents’ Principles Against Intolerance” adopted last March in the wake of increasing anti-Semitic activity throughout the UC campus system.
“Intolerance has become a serious and growing problem at UC. On too many campuses, one group’s freedom of expression has been used to denigrate, harass, intimidate, and shut down the expression of another group,” the letter stated. “Debate is veering into hate, and the campus climate is at risk of becoming toxic for a variety of students targeted for actions of intolerance.”
UC Santa Cruz lecturer and AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin responded to the Berkeley violence in an exclusive interview with the Haym Salomon Center: