Robert Reich publishes controversial theory regarding Yiannopoulos demonstration

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Two days after the demonstration that led to the cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos’ campus appearance Feb. 1, campus chancellor’s professor of public policy Robert Reich published a controversial theory on his blog about why the protests turned violent.

Reich’s theory draws a connection between Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump, alleging that the violence could have been coordinated to support Trump’s calls to revoke federal funding for UC Berkeley. In the blog post, Reich referred to the actions of about 150 masked agitators as “made-for-TV images of a riot.”

“Yiannopoulos wasn’t asked about the content of the speech that was shut down,” Reich said in the post, referring to Yiannopoulos’ Feb. 2 interview with Fox News after the demonstration. “The conversation focused instead on how Berkeley proved the point that the Left was ceding its right to federal grants by cracking down on free speech.”

Yiannopoulos condemned Reich in a Facebook post Feb. 3, calling him “ludicrous.”

Reich said in his blog post that he did not want to add to “conspiratorial musings,” but added that he believed there might be “something worrying going on.” Breitbart journalist Charlie Nash, however, called Reich’s theory a conspiracy theory in an article.

“Reich has further endangered Breitbart News employees and emboldened those who seek to destroy our right to freedom of speech,” said Alexander Marlow, campus alumnus and Breitbart editor-in-chief in an emailed statement. “His peers should call on him to provide evidence to support his attack or retract it and apologize — if not, perhaps his status as a scholar and academician should be seriously reconsidered.”

A UC Berkeley student who participated in the demonstration, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety, confirmed that UC Berkeley students were among those using the black bloc tactic, and that many were people of color. Additionally, three opinion pieces published Tuesday in the Daily Californian claim that students were among those with the black bloc.

“It’s not violence, it’s self defense,” the student said. “Peaceful protests are beautiful, but at the same time we should not condemn the destruction of private property. … We will not allow (Yiannopoulos’) rhetoric and his speech to hurt marginalized communities on campus.”

Contact Aleah Jennings-Newhouse at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ajn_dc.