Cuesta students joined those at Cal Poly to protest a scheduled speech Tuesday by right-winged Milo Yiannopoulos, editor for Breitbart news, considered by some to be racist and misogynistic.
Expecting the worst — after one appearance of the alt-right speaker in Washington State led to a shooting and violent protests — area law enforcement deployed a SWAT team and riot police to the sold-out event which was sponsored by the Cal Poly Republicans Club.
More than 100 officers from seven law enforcement agencies flanked the area outside Spanos Theater in anticipation of the large protests other campuses experienced during what Yiannopoulos calls his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
About 150 people showed up to protest what they called “hate speech,” some wearing all black with masks and carrying signs that read “Alt right is Nazism in Disguise.”
“I am against anything that promotes hate speech,” said Margaret Cowitz, a second year art history major at Cuesta.
In the past weeks, campuses such as the University of Colorado have been experiencing protests leading to arrests in response to Yiannopoulos speaking, with a shooting occurring at the University of Washington.
The protests did not stop with Cal Poly. The next day, UC Berkeley administrators had to shut down Yiannopoulos’s event due to thousands protesting outside.
The Berkeley campus was sent into a frenzy by agitators from Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area. Barricades were thrown into their student union’s windows and fires raged on Telegraph Ave.
After the cancellation of the event in Berkeley, President Donald Trump threatened to pull federal funding from the University in statement made on twitter.
“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?,” Trump said.
The Trump administration has a close connection to the Breitbart News Network, with the assistant to the president, Steve Bannon, serving as the executive chief of the publication before joining Trumps team.
Some of the protesters including Cuesta teacher Richard Goldsmith, were not out to protest Yiannopoulos, but instead Trump’s connection to the Breitbart News Network.
Goldsmith, who teaches electronics and electrical technology at Cuesta College, held up a sign stating “Breitbart The Home for American NAZIS.”
“I feel like we are moving… we are actually losing democracy in this presidency, […] I am afraid that what we see here might be American troops soon,” Goldsmith said.
On the other side it was not all protesters at the event. Over 400 people attended the speech given by Yiannopoulos including Cuesta student, John Buolock.
“I am curious to what he has to say,” Buolock said. “I have heard so much about him and I don’t agree with 75 percent of what he says, but I appreciate what he does.”
Also in attendance was third year, psychology major Joe Truppa who appreciates how Yiannopoulos speaks his mind and can stir controversy.