When gay immigrant, and provocateur Milo Yiannopolous had his speaking event canceled at University of California Berkeley after violence and riots broke out, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to say that utilizing violence to silence free speech could result in the loss of federal funding.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Currently, UC Berkeley recieves billions in federal dollars to assist with student aid, medical needs, and research. However, Trump’s threat to strip these billions due to Berkeley’s reaction to differing opinions with violence and silencing tactics did not go over well with California Democrats, and one California Republican.
California legislators took to social media to release statements condemning Trump’s willingness to strip taxpayer money from the “center of the free speech movement,” according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Berkeley is the center of the free speech movement. I think that the protesters have a right to free speech as well. If there is an infiltration of the crowd by those that are less than peaceful, that should be addressed,” she said.
“Berkeley has a proud history of dissent and students were fully within their rights to protest peacefully. However, I am disappointed by the unacceptable acts of violence last night which were counterproductive and dangerous,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) in a tweet. “President Donald Trump cannot bully our university into silence. Simply put, President Trump’s empty threat to cut funding from UC Berkeley is an abuse of power.”
Pres. Trump doesn’t have a license to blackmail universities. He’s the president, not a dictator, & his empty threats are an abuse of power. pic.twitter.com/RQTtpCVnIs
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) February 2, 2017
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier also chimed in, calling Trump’s threat “foolish.”
While we do not condone violence, threatening to strip the world's leading public institution & research facility of fed funds is foolish. https://t.co/DZqAX8lW1g
— Mark DeSaulnier (@RepDeSaulnier) February 2, 2017
Rep. Adam Schiff also tweeted out to California House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asking if he’s okay with Trump taking away funding “in a temper tantrum.”
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 2, 2017
The sole California Republican to react negatively to Trump’s threat was Rep. Ed Royce who said “Cal students on work-study or scholarships shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a select few, and I’ll push back against any move to do so. UC Berkeley was right to embrace a free exchange of ideas. Those who destroyed campus property or committed acts of violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”