On Wednesday night, violent protesters at the University of California, Berkeley shut down the free speech of a scheduled conservative speaker by rioting, committing arson, destroying property and pepper spraying innocent Trump supporters in attendance. There was indeed a police presence, but there was no reason for them being there, as the officers were seemingly handcuffed by authorities from actually acting on the violent thugs.
As summed up nicely by vile leftist Debra Messing in a celebratory tweet, the violent rioting from leftist thugs “worked”: free speech was successfully suppressed due to the violent actions of the “tolerant” left.
After the fact, President Donald Trump reacted to the insanity by issuing a tweet suggesting he might revoke federally funding from the university if free speech continues to be suppressed.
But how have past state and local officials handled disorderly protesters in the past? When Ronald Reagan was serving as governor of California in 1969, he was faced with student protesters on the Berkeley campus who refused to follow the rule of law; their protest eventually morphed into a riot. Reagan’s approach in handling such students was no-nonsense, to put it mildly.
Students and activists had begun an attempt to transform a vacant plot of university property into “People’s Park.” Attempting to head off the activists, the university engaged a fencing company, accompanied by 250 police, to erect a chain-link fence around the land at 4 a.m. on May 15, 1969. Five hours later, a rally was called on Sproul Plaza to protest the action. Resource, a current UC Berkeley reference guide for new students, relates the story of how Reagan intervened, sending in the National Guard:
“The rally, which drew 3,000 people, soon turned into a riot, as the crowd moved down Telegraph (Ave.) towards the park. That day, known as Bloody Thursday, three students suffered punctured lungs, another a shattered leg, 13 people were hospitalized with shotgun wounds, and one police officer was stabbed. James Rector, who was watching the riot from a rooftop, was shot by police gunfire; he died four days later.
“At the request of the Berkeley mayor, Governor Ronald Reagan declared a state of emergency and sent 2,200 National Guard troops into Berkeley. Some of these guardsmen were even Cal students. At least one young man had participated in the riots, been shot at by police, gotten patched up, and then returned to his dorm to find a notice to report for guard duty. In the following days approximately 1,000 people were arrested: 200 were booked for felonies, and 500 were taken to Santa Rita jail.”
The contrast between Reagan’s approach with that of California officials in 2017 couldn’t be more stark.