Violence broke out between protesters and counter-protesters attending an event held Tuesday by British right-wing pundit Milo Yiannopoulos at California State University, Fullerton. At least two people were arrested for scuffles, and five others were arrested for unknown reasons, according to university spokesman Jeff Cook.
In addition to the 800 people who attended the event, multiple protesters also showed up chanting slogans, such as “Black lives matter!” and “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand!”
Some had signs reading, “Immigrants in, racists out,” and, “Only socialist revolution can defeat capitalist reaction,” according to a Fox News report.
Protester Claudia Brick, 66, told reporters, “We believe in their right to free speech, as well, but we believe we can get our message across louder, and there are certainly more of us.”
Expecting trouble, a large police presence included additional agencies, with cops on horseback and officers on the roof; even helicopters were dispatched to hover around the area, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Most protesters were peaceful, but violence erupted when a woman punched Yiannopoulos supporter Genevieve Peters several times before someone restrained her with pepper spray.
Peters said the female protester was carrying a baby and attacked her after she told the woman she needed to be careful with the toddler at the protest.
“She came and just punched me in the side of the head, and came running after me, and my friends had to get her off,” said Peters, describing herself as a “proud” supporter of President Donald Trump. “She tried to punch me three or four times. I feel sorry for her because she has so much anger.”
One of those arrested was a woman wearing a black mask and helmet, who shot pepper spray into the air and was heard urging demonstrators to storm the Yiannopoulos event and beat him up, the L.A. Times reported.
Most of the violence took place prior to Yiannopoulos’ speech, which was his first big appearance on a U.S. college campus after the highly anticipated “Free Speech Week” at U.C. Berkeley fell apart amid disorganization.
The Fullerton event was organized by the College Republicans, who invited Yiannopoulos in their efforts to draw attention to the existence of conservative students at the college.
“We really just felt left out of the conversations on campus, as conservatives, and bringing him has really started this conversation about free speech,” said Brooke Paz, a spokeswoman for the group.