Black bloc did what campus should have

There’s a petition circulating that would have me declared a domestic terrorist.

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, a few friends and I met up with many other small groups of friends. We gathered off campus, distributed flags, wrote the National Lawyers Guild number on each others’ arms and helped each other make sure our faces were properly covered. Then we started marching.

If you were in the crowd on Sproul Plaza that night, the antifa might have appeared to be a homogenous mass of agents of chaos descending on your “resistance dance party.” This is understandable. Black bloc tactics are primarily designed to protect the identities of the individuals in the bloc from doxxing, surveillance footage and being singled out for arrest. You couldn’t tell who was behind those masks, and that’s the point.

But don’t get it twisted. We were not, as the news, the chancellor and concerned progressives have alleged, “unaffiliated white anarchists.” Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students, of women, of people of color, of queer and trans people.

The bloc was made up of people with the most to fight for and the most to lose.

Now, personally, I prefer to attend protests in cocktail dresses and eyeliner. But after the reception of my last piece, that wasn’t an option.

Though the worst a Breitbart “reporter” could muster was misgendering me, trending on Breitbart is not an experience I can recommend. I received many colorful threats to my life, but no credible ones. Others who tango with Milo Yiannopoulos’ fans haven’t been so lucky.

So when I went out to make good on my promise to revoke Yiannopoulos’ gay card, I wore black and covered my face.

To those who defend free speech: I spent a semester in this very newspaper yelling about Grindr hookups and advocating rioting. My constitutional right to be outrageous and offensive in the press is very precious to me. But when I exercised my freedom of speech and called Yiannopoulos a pathetic motherfucker with ugly roots, many liberals told me I should be quiet and ignore him, and all his fans told me they were going to kill me. I expect this will happen again.

Unlike Yiannopoulos and his friends, I don’t harass people for being trans or Muslim or undocumented. I don’t doxx people for disagreeing with me. I also don’t have police on call to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets at people who think I shouldn’t talk. But go on, tell me that I killed the Free Speech Movement.

To those who hate Yiannopoulos and the alt-right but have a hard time condoning black bloc tactics and property damage, I understand that these tactics are extreme. But when you consider everything that activists already tried — when mass call-ins, faculty and student objections, letter-writing campaigns, numerous op-eds (including mine), union grievances and peaceful demonstrations don’t work, when the nonviolent tactics have been exhausted — what is left?

Of all the objections and cancellation requests presented to the administration, local government and local police, the only one that was listened to was the sound of shattering glass.

To the less radical bystanders who chanted “no more violence” (as though Amazon windows and floodlights have bones to break or blood to spill) and who turned out the next morning to help clean up — would you have been there to defend the undocumented students he would have outed? To defend me from the next round of doxxing and lukewarm death threats that is my reward for exercising my own First Amendment rights? Will you chant No More Violence at the Proud Boys and the skinheads? Will you get between a counter-protester and the target of their rage?

I understand that the chaotic reality of direct action frightened a lot of people. But at the University of Washington protest, a Yiannopoulos fan shot an unarmed anti-fascist organizer and walked free. Do broken windows frighten you more than bullets?

Antifa was there to protect UC Berkeley students when the administration was not. Within 15 minutes of the bloc’s arrival on Sproul Plaza, Yiannopoulos was being rushed from the building. These were not acts of violence.

They were acts of self defense.

And to Yiannopoulos and all your friends who invited you and hosted you and defended your “right” to speak: I recommend you learn your lesson.

Our shields are raised against you. No one will protect us? We will protect ourselves.

Read more opinion coverage on the use of violence in protests here.

Neil Lawrence is a former Daily Cal columnist. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

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  • Purrelli

    Neil, you are nothing more than a punk. A punk kid who likes to throw rocks at windows and destroy property that doesn’t belong to you. Getting arrested by the police should not be your biggest concern, it should be running into people like me that consider you a domestic terrorist and a coward.

  • andy 123

    Here is a real question for you Neil: If the far left is not going to follow the law in protesting things they don’t like (such as Milo), then what reason can you put forward for why should the far right bother follow the law and no use violence on people like you to shut you up?
    Do you really think that you and your friends are better at violence than they are? Do you see how this ends?

    • Attila Iskander – A Déplorable

      But, but..
      They’re doing it for the good of all..
      They’re trying to protect everyone else from speech they consider hateful
      Surely, the end justifies the means

  • //To those who hate Yiannopoulos and the alt-right but have a hard time condoning black bloc tactics and property damage, I understand that these tactics are extreme. But when you consider everything that activists already tried — when mass call-ins, faculty and student objections, letter-writing campaigns, numerous op-eds (including mine), union grievances and peaceful demonstrations don’t work, when the nonviolent tactics have been exhausted — what is left?//

    I dunno, shutting up and accepting that you could not make a cogent case for censoring him, maybe?

  • Mick Price

    “Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students, of women, of people of color, of queer and trans people.”
    Really? Because while I can’t judge whether any of Antifa were queer or trans they did seem to be whiter than a Klanbake. Pretty much a complete sausagefest too.

  • linked1

    I detest Breitbart and his vile band of provocateurs, but it seems to me that black bloc methods are having the opposite of the desired effect.
    I’m envisioning letting the little twirp give his talk, but line the aisle to the entrance in a military fashion, with the hundreds who see them. Force the attendees to walk down an aisle of shame seen by onlookers lining the sidewalk in complete silence.

  • Sven

    “The right” consists of 30% on the country that identifies as conservative. That’s what…. approx 90 million people? Out of that 90 million there are going to be some that don’t mind fighting back and will show up specifically for that purpose. Look at REBEL media’s Gavin McGinnis for an example; now I haven’t see Gavin randomly attack people, but he does seem to fight back against those who use physical force against him.

  • Thexxan

    Inciting violence like this is not a right. Its a crime. You should be in jail for making violent threats such as these. Would you expect to walk free after calling in threats to an airport? You people are pathetic – using violence to “protect” students from what? Ideas?

  • andy 123

    Sow the wind . . .

  • Spacewarp

    People would call you a domestic terrorist because you ARE a domestic terrorist. The fact that you haven’t been arrested for your insane temper tantrum and fascist acts is indicative of a rot in the core of California law enforcement. Your right to protest ends at my property. And, you moron, you protested to keep Milo from being heard. And then, you got him heard all over the world. You were so afraid of his WORDS that you gave him a platform for MILLIONS. If you’d just followed the law, you might have limited his speech to just the 500 who were attending. Instead, you acted like brown-shirts and fascists who were out of power and trying to cow people into following your extremist ideology.

    Great work. Stupid leftist.

  • NotSure2006

    This is a failing strategy. It just makes people think he is right about intellectual intolerance on campuses, which is what his talks are all about. Congratulations on proving him right and giving him an even bigger microphone.

  • Pure

    It would be self defense if they were shooting at you. They weren’t. They were holding a lecture. Start attacking these people, I promise they’re better armed than you, and have a breaking point where they stop just letting you do it.

  • (((marco01)))

    LW anarchist protesters gave Milo exactly what he wanted – national recognition and victim status even. Most Americans never heard of him, and while they may have heard he’s not a nice guy, they will still believe he has the right to free speech. All Americans saw was a violent LW movement that shut him down.

    This liberal opposes these kind of counterproductive actions. In my view it’s why Occupy fizzled. It had support at first, but the violence turns Americans off. Sorry LW anarchists, Americans are not inspired by your violence – nor do they support your anarchist goals. Americans want a healthy, functioning democracy, and your actions work against us achieving it.

  • EnricoIsPixelated

    Any sympathy I had for their “movement” vanished into the ether when they started bashing and macing women and yet here is this bell end author talking about the patriarchy …… spare me

  • FreedomFan

    “Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students, of women, of people of color, of queer and trans people.”

    Then Robert Reich stands corrected. The moral midget went on national TV and said he was pretty sure the masked Berzerkely thugs were “right wingers” cuz he had never seen them on campus.

  • nobody

    I wonder if this twink will “think” the same when the brown shirts will come for him and his buttbuddies.

  • William O’rights

    To those who hate Yiannopoulos and the alt-right but have a hard time condoning black bloc tactics and property damage, I understand that these tactics are extreme. But when you consider everything that activists already tried — when mass call-ins, faculty and student objections, letter-writing campaigns, numerous op-eds (including mine), union grievances and peaceful demonstrations don’t work, when the nonviolent tactics have been exhausted — what is left?

    Perhaps…. purchasing a ticket, standing in line quietly, listening to the presentation, and then…. after all of that…. you could have used your Berkeley education and posed a thoughtfully and well crafted, well researched question that challenged a point that Milo espoused. And then, if you found his answer wanting, perhaps you might have supported your argument with a more in depth, well reasoned, well supported argument why you thought his position was incorrect.

    Then, having expressed your viewpoint, in front of the well mannered audience, and a typical online audience of 200k viewers, let your argument, objections and ideas stand or fall on their merit.

    Ok…. nah… what am I thinking…. Destroying property, assaulting police, and rioting is a much more effective vehicle in convincing people with an opposing viewpoint that you and your brethren on the left are not opposing free speech, that you don’t support violence, that you don’t support hate on the basis of differences, and that you are educated enough to distinguish words from actions.

    Or, maybe not.

    • William O’rights

      Oh, yes… I also forgot to thank you for your nicely crafted, and publicly published confession that you and your friends:
      1. conspired to deprive a person of their right to free speech
      2. conspired and acted to deprive citizens of their right to free association and assembly
      3. conspired and participated in a riot.

      Thank goodness you prepared and donned a mask to protect your identity. Otherwise law enforcement might be able to find you! (You are aware that the statute of limitations on these crimes are a tad longer than 48 hours, aren’t you?)

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    The left want to settle everything with violence, and they are opposed to gun ownership.

    Charles Darwin says “Hi!”.

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    Good luck getting a job with a degree from Berkeley AND a felony assault conviction on your resume.
    If that isn’t a double whammy, what is?

    Maybe just tell a little white lie and say you went to Oberlin instead of Berkeley.

  • Thanatos

    The best part is years from now when you finally grow up and realize how monstrously stupid you were and how your actions did everything humanly possible to discredit your cause, it’ll be too late.

  • Solid Bow

    As usual I’ll just say “why not just go have a discussion?” To which I’m sure SJWs will come flying out saying “You can’t have discussions with NAZIS!!!” How on Earth is it “progressive” to run around in a mask and attack people?

    Progressives are losing miserably and they don’t even seem to realize it. Once you’ve gone to resorting to gang violence (especially against unarmed women standing in a line… which is up there with the most cowardly thing i’ve ever seen as Antifa morons pepper spray an Afghani Immigrant girl and her friends) you’re all but done.

    Interested to see what sentence that former prof who was in antifa and beat a guy unconscious gets.

    • Chief Presiding Judge

      Milo’s supporters and members of the alt-right hurt much more people. And second of all there was only one arrest. The “mass violence” you’re talking about is a right-wing myth that they’re pushing for some reason to defend this neo-nazi.

      Lastly, “sjw” is a meaningless right-wing buzzword used to refer to anyone that conservatives disagree with. You’ll have to try again.

      • The Oatmeal Savage

        ‘Milo’s supporters and members of the alt-right hurt much more people.’

        Proof, please.
        And no, you don’t get to count things that might happen in the future, try to stay in the present.


          But, but – Nazis!

  • Chief Presiding Judge

    ITT: right-wingers who don’t live in Berkeley miss the entire point of the article, project, spout their favorite buzzwords, and miss the irony and hypocrisy of what they’re saying considering they just elected an authoritarian named Donald Trump.

    • The Oatmeal Savage

      Trump is an authoritarian?
      Details please!

      You know, speaking of buzzwords and irony and hypocrisy and stuff….

  • Remiel Pollard

    Your violence was not self-defence. It was noting but petty thuggery. Self-defence would have been the people Antifa attacked that night pulling out firearms and blowing their attackers away.

  • M2000

    Here’s one phrase you should get use to: Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect 200 Dollars, Do Not Claim You’re For Freedom Of Speech.

  • HealthyAmerican

    Not sure I’m interested in believing anything said by someone who claims a protester was shot by a Milo Fan and allowed to go free in Seattle. Conveniently leaving out the proven fact the Milo Fan was acting in self defense doesn’t make your assertion true. But hey, go ahead and raise those paper shields and try not to be surprised when they’re consumed by actual fire. I recommend you learn your lesson, because the day is coming when you will be made to learn it whether you wish to or not. Your self-perceived power has all the substance and force of free floating vapor.

  • Peter Karr

    You write, “Of all the objections and cancellation requests presented to the administration, local government and local police, the only one that was listened to was the sound of shattering glass,” History repeats itself, Mr Lawrence. You could call it Krystallnacht, the night of broken glass.

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    Third world dumps are third world dumps for a reason.
    And the people who leave third world dumps and come here shouldn’t be so quick to bring the culture that made their home countries third world dumps.
    The fascism, thuggery, violence, and lack of intelligent thought is what made those countries third world dumps.

    Respect for free speech and freedom and capitalism is what made America great.
    And America must be great, otherwise why did you come here?

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    The new Campus Free Speech bill in Tennessee is named the Milo bill.

    So, who won?
    Trump said we would get tired of winning.

    • Attila Iskander – A Deplorable


      We won this fight
      But there’s a lot more ahead

      And you can still lose the war, even if you win a lot of battles.
      Just look at how the left snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Vietnam
      And more recently Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq.

      Funny how the left is consistent.
      We have to stop allowing them to do this in the future.

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    So you know the identity of the criminals and are not telling the police?
    People were assaulted and injured by the people whose identity you are protecting.
    Accessory after the fact?

    You’re not in Kansas anymore Toto, there is a new sheriff in town.

  • Private Citizen

    Opinions supportive of the author are being deleted probably because the left is trying to portray this as a fringe movement.

  • Dave Doleshal

    There is a lot in this article I could respond to, but I shall limit myself here to the claim that extreme (=violent) tactics MUST be used in order to be effective, and are justified because they are the ONLY tactics that actually “work.” Although I can sympathize with high level of frustration of the author about how difficult it can be to get the powers that be to respond to the needs of the rest of us (a phenomenon that is regrettably not limited to the far left), I would say the notion that violent tactics “work” is merely an illusion.

    Sure, the violence did immediately produce the desired effect of shutting down Milo’s presentation, and, at least to those who find Milo’s opinions offensive and repugnant, that obviously seems to be a short term success. I’m sure this made the people who performed the violent acts feel “empowered” and “successful”.

    Unfortunately, it is often possible to win a battle but lose the war, which is precisely what happened in this case. Sure, Milo was shut down in THIS one instance, but at what cost? As a result of what was done at UC Berkeley, Milo was suddenly catapulted to nationwide fame and notoriety, achieved almost heroic status overnight, and become a “martyr” for the alt-right cause. His new found status has instantly opened up a vast number of new venues, media outlets, and opportunities for him to express his ideas (and get paid for doing so) to far larger audiences that were not available to him the day before. Vast multitudes who never heard of him (and would have ignored him if they had) are now paying great attention to him. This is all a result of the short term “success” of these violent tactics having been used “effectively” against him. Whatever the “effectiveness” of such violent tactics when gauged from this narrow perspective, it has been greatly counteracted in the bigger picture and the grander scheme of things.

    In this specific case, the use of violent tactics was very counterproductive to the stated objectives of the people who deployed them. That same pattern seems to be true in just about every single case in which such violent tactics are used. The immediate results only SEEM to be effective – but this perceived effectiveness is an illusion – and a dangerous one at that.

  • Max Fendt

    The media assured me that no Berkeley students were part of black bloc. Now I’m just confused.

    • Dave Doleshal

      If they don’t know the identities of all the black bloc members, then how can anyone claim to know whether any of them are UC B students or not?

      • Attila Iskander – A Deplorable

        Considering that one Black Bloc member, also an employee of UCB, outed himself by bragging, with photos attached, about beating up people.
        The next question to ask, is was this employee of UCB also a recruiter for Black Bloc ?

    • The Oatmeal Savage

      They must know the identity of the rioters if they can make such a statement.

  • Ed Oswalt

    With The Daily Cal’s decision to publish this guy, and also Maggie Lam, I really have to think the editors are extraordinarily stupid, provincial, and hateful people, and need more adult supervision.

  • Ed Oswalt

    Hey Robert Reich, did you read this?

  • Ryan Gunn

    So you’re an admitted criminal alien here without authorization, depriving citizens of both tax funds and a seat at the University, confessing to taking at least part of, if not leadership in acts of terrorism on your campus, and your excuse is that you’re taking preemptive self-defense against a non-violent gay Jew Neo-Nazi?

    You’re a real winner, aren’t you.

  • Ron Jeffries

    63,592 supporters for that petition… well, 63,593 supporters now. Thanks for the link.

  • ArentIpretty

    You are delusional and present a danger to civil society. The police have been contacted.

  • Beta revoked Milo’s gay card. That will certainly stop Milo in his trac, er, scratch that thought. All Berkeley trash did by destroying stuff and assaulting people was to give Milo an audience of 3 million that night.

    Snowflake still haz a sad, knowing how it’s worthless life will never measure up to Milo’s.

  • S H

    the German left played with the same fire once… yes; stupid and destructive.

  • John Marshall

    Why are you dbags censoring my comment?

  • Canuck Sailor

    Hey Jerk – (see, that was respectful, I capitalized it). What part of free speech do you NOT understand? Free speech isn’t free if you get a veto on it. Maybe you don’t get that? It’s people like you who are the problem, not Milo, whatever one thinks about him.

  • Allison

    The only legitimate protest – whether within the law or as civil disobedience – is nonviolent.

    There is no ambiguity about the definition of violence. Breaking windows and setting fires is violent.

    Throughout the history of human and civil rights struggles, millions have protested peacefully and successfully, and with the understanding that violence sets the opposite example of what is needed and intended.

    Violence is criminal. Only in narrow moments of self-defense3 in life threatening situations – known in the legal world as imminent threat or exigent circumstance – is violence legally justified.

    Right now in America there is a deepening drumbeat that may cresciendo into the most massive and influential peaceful protests and demonstrations in American history. The springtime promises to be epic. The violence we witnessed on Sproul last week threatens that possibility. It subverts the importance of the moment, and it ruins the legitimacy of any message about civil rights and decent and righteous democracy.

    • pwrserge

      We have a democracy smart one. You lost. Deal with it. Elections have consequences. Start marching, and the Marines will roll out to put commie scum like you in your place.

  • everybody knows

    This is seen as a stunning success?

    Let me see… police are ordered from above to stand down…rioters commit meyhem and property crimes as an organized group to dispel free speech (however repugnant that speech was planned to be)… FBI investigates BAMN as a terrorist group (The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”)… ringleaders are arrested on federal charges and put away for a nickel in a federal pen.

    Nobody important cares in the moment or remembers in the future

    Stunning success?

  • Camarouge

    Cooooouldn’t help but notice you left out the parts where several non-antifas were savagely beaten by crowds of antifas. It’s almost like your being dishonest, or something!

  • Tripper

    Trump won 30 states in 2016. A bunch have Senate races in 2018. And I bet that video of the girl in the Trump hat pepper sprayed by the Democrats’ street army will be played a lot.

    • Attila Iskander – A Deplorable

      It wasn’t even a Trump Hat
      It said “Make Bitcoin Great Again”

  • Robert Sparks

    Please don’t stop. You are a freedom fighter! A Hero! Keep on smashing in Americans faces who are expressing their rights as free Americans! Keep of pepper spraying and sucker punching Americans! Keep on licking them on the ground. Keep on hitting people over the head with your ironic protest signs. GOP super majority in 2018! Trump is like Israel. Everytime he’s attacked, he gains new ground.

  • Reillyington86

    It’s bullsh*t like this article and the complete spreading of lies and misinformation that has pushed me further and further away from the left and more towards the right. Berkeley was not a protest, it was a riot. The left no longer wants to allow free speech if it hurts their precious ‘fweelings’. Grow up.

    I don’t think I could vote for the liberals ever again.

    • Tripper

      Tell your friends.

  • SJW tears

    “But when you consider everything that activists already tried — when mass call-ins, faculty and student objections, letter-writing campaigns, numerous op-eds (including mine), union grievances and peaceful demonstrations don’t work, when the nonviolent tactics have been exhausted — what is left?”
    What is left is to accept that if you have to resort to violence then you have no valid arguments. If Milo really was a “white nationalist” or a “Nazi” then it would be easy to argue against him, and yet you can’t. What does that tell you about yourself? And your position?
    Have you ever, for even a second, considered that maybe it’s you that is wrong and that Milo has some good points?


      An SJW is never wrong. Only racists use facts.

  • 11Plunkett

    Thanks to you and your ilk…the Democrats are now branded as the party of Masked Thugs and Deranged Women wearing Vagina Costumes. #60Rseats2018 #TRUMP2020…..thank you again Neil xoxoxoxoxo

  • helen

    Time to slink back into the darkness Neil, and stay there for a while. Whoever told you it was safe to treat the surrounding community like your therapist, toilet or punching bag has lied to you and compromised your future in dangerous times.

  • Private Citizen

    I’ve survived being falsely accused of rape and dragged through mud by everyone, treated like a criminal, have a restraining order put against me only to appear at court and be COMPLETELY VINDICATED because she didn’t even bother to show up because it was all one big lie because I hurt her feelings when we broke up. Poor Snowflake!

    It’s unfortunate that many times Rape is used against innocent men as well. It dulls sympathy for real victims. I for instance have doubts any time a woman says she’s raped because of my personal experience.

    • Diana Wilson

      Spoken like a card-carrying repeat Rapist. Certain your Father is proud!

      • godwings101

        You sound like a card-carrying misandrist. I’m certain your mother is proud!

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