Politics

8 detained at Milo Yiannopoulos speech at Cal State Fullerton

In this file photo, Milo Yiannopoulos speaks during a press conference, February 21, 2017 in New York City. About 800 people are expected to attend a speech by Yiannopolous at California State University, Fullerton, on Halloween night.
In this file photo, Milo Yiannopoulos speaks during a press conference, February 21, 2017 in New York City. About 800 people are expected to attend a speech by Yiannopolous at California State University, Fullerton, on Halloween night.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Police detained eight people after some arguments turned violent between protesters and those attending a speech by conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at a Southern California college Tuesday night.

The protesters at California State University, Fullerton stood outside barricades chanting "Black lives matter," and "Cops and the Klan go hand in hand." Some carried signs that read, "Immigrants in, racists out."

They were mostly peaceful, but one woman protesting the event punched a Yiannopoulos supporter several times before a third person subdued her with pepper spray.

The woman who was attacked, Genevieve Peters, said a protester holding a baby had been screaming and yelling so wildly that she had told her she needed to be careful for her baby.

Peters said that set the woman off and an argument led to the woman going after her.

"She came and just punched me in the side of the head, and came running after me, and my friends had to get her off," said Peters, who described herself as a "rabid" and "proud" supporter of President Donald Trump. "She tried to punch me three or four times. I feel sorry for her because she has so much anger."

The woman disappeared from the scene and could not be found for comment. It wasn't clear if she was arrested, but Peters said she would be pressing charges.

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Approximately 250 police officers, some of them in riot gear, were outside the venue, where hundreds showed up to listen to Yiannopoulos.

"We come out and try and be louder than them," said Claudia Brick, 66, who was among those protesting Yiannopoulos. "We believe in their right to free speech as well, but we believe we can get our message across louder, and there are certainly more of us."

The event comes after a series of other scheduled speeches by Yiannopoulos have fallen through. He called off a weekend appearance in Arizona after a series of threats, and made a fleeting appearance at the famously liberal University of California, Berkeley last month after a weeklong free speech event he helped organize was called off.

Last February, UC Berkeley police canceled Yiannopoulos' scheduled speech on campus just before it was to begin, citing safety concerns. A large crowd had gathered outside and the peaceful demonstration turned violent when dozens of black-clad anarchists appeared and attacked some demonstrators and later vandalized some businesses near the campus.

Cal State Fullerton is a largely commuter campus serving about 40,000 students. Unlike Berkeley, the school isn't known as a hotbed of political activism, though there has been an increase in rallies and demonstrations over the last year, campus police Lt. Scot Willey said.

Yiannopoulos was invited to speak by the College Republicans. Brooke Paz, a spokeswoman for the group, said the goal was to draw attention to free speech and the presence of politically conservative students on campus.

"We really just felt left out of the conversations on campus as conservatives and bringing him has really started this conversation about free speech," she said.

This story was updated.