Friday, June 3, 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Irvine

Protesters assemble as people wait to get into event

Last night, Milo Yiannopoulos made his much anticipated appearance at UC Irvine. I turned out to see it, but unfortunately, there were so many people (200-300 by my guess) that the small room that was reserved could not accommodate everyone. That includes me. So I stayed and watched the fun outside as some 50 or so protesters showed up.

 The event was scheduled to begin at 7, but given the reports from UCLA a couple of days previous I wandered out to the venue around 5. There was already a long line waiting.

At the Cross Cultural Center, meanwhile, UCI had organized a "safe space" event devoted to "social justice, love and community", which was scheduled at the same time.

There were two lines. The first line was to check in at the registration desk and make sure your name was on the RSVP list. Then after having your hand stamped, you took your place at the end of another equally long line to get in. I was told my name was not on the list though I had sent in my RSVP. The nice lady gave me a slip of paper with her initials on it to keep in case there were cancellations. I went to the end of the second line but was convinced I would never get in.

About that time about 50 or so young protesters showed up outside the venue. The campus police were out in force as well as some university officials. They took care to keep the two groups separated and keep the peace. From everything I observed, they did a very good job. At the check in counter, there were hand outs reading, "Thinking of disrupting? Remember the Irvine 11. Removed, arrested, prosecuted, convicted. " I assume these were made up by the College Republicans, who were sponsoring the event.

People waiting to get in with campus police on left

Standing back at the rear of the line, there was much I could not see or hear. The crowd waiting to get in was mostly young, and though mostly white were diverse as well. Many seemed to be Donald Trump supporters. Some of the chants I heard throughout the evening back and forth were:

Pro-Milo supporters:

"USA, USA, Build the Wall, Ten Feet Higher, Get a job, Constitution".


"Stop the Hate, Free Free Palestine, End the Occupation",

While I was back at the end of the line, one of the young men in front of me went up to the front to check out the back and forth between the two camps. He came back and reported that a Milo supporter had broken into the National Anthem and that the other side had booed. (I didn't see or hear it myself.)

From the back of the (first) line

Seven o"clock came and went and nobody had yet been allowed to enter. Then at 7:20, we saw Milo being escorted into the back of the venue by about 8 security and campus police. At about 7:45, I gave up and decided to cover the protest. I wandered over behind the protesters. Several curious students had gathered about thirty yards behind the protesters to watch the scene, and the two groups chanted back and forth at each other separated by police and university officials. At one point, a young man among the spectators began shouting at the Milo supporters, "Go home white boy! Go  back to Orange County white boy." (We were in Orange County.)

Then as the attendees were allowed inside several dozen who were not allowed in continued going back and forth with the protesters. I then went back to the pro-Milo side and saw  that about five young protesters had gone over as well and were engaged in a heated exchange with some of the Milo-supporters. Campus police and university officials continued to try and keep them apart.

Note: This morning's Orange County Register reported that one of the protesters was called the n-word at some point in the evening resulting in a multi-person scuffle. Since there were three or four young black men involved in the argument, this may have been the incident they were referring to though I did not see any scuffle. As stated previously, there were things I missed while waiting at the end of the line.

Finally, things started to quiet down as the crowd diminished. It seemed that shortly before nine that it consisted of mostly Milo supporters waiting to catch a glimpse of him as he left. That was when I decided to call it a night.

During the event, ploce separate the two sides. (Pro-Milo folks in foreground)

The OC Register quoted a student last night as saying that now, UCI is a divided campus. I certainly hope that is not the case.

There will be more as soon as I get the videos downloaded.

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