By Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside
In the six days since rioters hijacked a raucous, but peaceful protest against the right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, many have wondered who those masked marauders actually were. The 100 to 150 people who stormed Sproul Plaza and who UC officials said hurled fireworks, rocks, and Molotov cocktails at police were mostly dressed in black with ski masks or bandanas hiding their faces.
Were the troublemakers from the left? Or from the right?
Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been called in to help figure it out.
Immediately after the protests, which caused $100,000 in damage to the MLK student union, the Amazon store on its first floor, and at least one tree, UC Berkeley officials described the rioters as acting as a coordinated paramilitary force that had “essentially raided the campus.” There were similarities among the rioters that this reporter noticed; many of them carried the same rounded long sticks that they used to hold up flags or, perhaps, to smash windows.
“They came in a military fashion, they were well-rehearsed,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof on the night of the protests. “They seemed armed and dangerous.”
About 1,500 people were peacefully protesting against Yiannopoulos’s scheduled talk in the plaza when the group of black-clad protesters rushed onto campus en masse around 5:50 p.m. Within a few minutes, they had moved the metal barricades set up to create a space for those attending the talk to pass through, and had thrown several of the barriers through ground-floor windows. They also set a generator on fire, providing the dramatic images of the protest that have been flashed around the world. The black-clad protesters then occupied the area nearest the student union for most of the night while others stood on the steps of Sproul Hall or gathered further away.
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