A woman who was pepper-sprayed by a masked assailant during protests at the University of California, Berkeley in February is suing the university for $23 million, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Attorneys for Oakland resident Kiara Robles allege that their client's First Amendment rights were violated in the incident, which occurred when protesters stormed UC Berkeley to show their disdain of extreme right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who was scheduled to give a speech on the campus. The university later canceled the scheduled speech because of the violent nature of the protests.
The assault on Robles was captured by an ABC News film crew, who was interviewing her at the time.
Robles told SFGate she didn't know what she wanted to get out of the lawsuit, but that she felt a response was necessary.
"I do think order is the right way to respond to chaos, and a lawsuit is the civil way to respond to injustice," she said.
Attorney Larry Klayman, who is representing Robles, said that the school was partly to blame because they facilitated the breeding grounds for the attack.
"We want justice for Kiara," Klayman said, according to SFGate. "She was assaulted. The California university system, and in part, Berkeley, is out of control, and they’re facilitating, if not inciting, violence, and the campus police sit around twiddling their thumbs."
The lawsuit names 18 other defendants, including UC Berkeley Police Department, Berkeley Police Department, UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin. It also lists House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and liberal business investor George Soros.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof called the lawsuit a "collection of false claims" and indicated the university was prepared to fight back in court.
"We are confident that UCPD's actions will be vindicated against the plaintiff's uninformed allegations,” Mogulof said.
The protests over Yiannopoulos' planned speech in February quickly turned violent when masked attackers joined in the previously peaceful demonstrations, throwing smoke bombs into the crowd, breaking windows, setting fires, and causing around $100,000 in damages to campus property.