Jim Clark: Would ‘Klan laws’ be same for black bloc protest? (opinion)
In last week’s column, I described the recent political riots on the UC Berkeley campus. College Republicans had invited a gay conservative named Milo Yannopoulos to speak to their group.
“Snowflakes” (faculty and students who can’t handle ideas they disagree with) had asked the university to cancel the appearance but officials refused. On the night of the proposed event some 1500 students showed up to protest.
They were joined by a group of about 150 people dressed all in black and wearing black masks (later identified by a university official as agitators known as the “black bloc”) who brandished incendiary devices and blunt weapons.
The university canceled the presentation but to no avail. Demonstrators started fires, assaulted college Republicans and destroyed property.
At least six bystanders were injured and university property as well as nearby banks had doors, ATMs and windows smashed in. UC police were unsuccessful in maintaining order and failed to call for assistance from the Berkeley and Oakland Police Departments. No arrests were made.
There have been a couple of related developments since publication of that column. At least one source, Conservative Blog Daily Caller, has linked instigation of the riot to “Refuse Fascism,” a New York organization founded, according to their website, to “defeat Trump and Pence.”
Refuse Fascism is in turn sponsored by Alliance for Global Justice, a charity funded by liberal mega-millionaire and hedge fund manager George Soros. Both organizations denied the charge.
If Daily Caller, is correct it would appear that those organizations advocate Mussolini-type fascist tactics to oppose Trump and Pence and those who agree with them.
Soros, incidentally, was convicted in France of insider trading in 2006, yet he has free rein in the US to fund political “charities.” We are likely to see more political riots.
In last week’s column I suggested that universities that fail to provide order and discipline so as to encourage debate and discourse … such as Berkeley where only “snowflakes” have “free speech” rights .. violate the First Amendment and should properly have their federal funding questioned.
My contention got some support this week from Law Professor Glen Reynolds. Writing in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Prof. Reynolds pointed out that stifling free speech is a crime.
Citing the events at Berkeley as well as other such occurrences at New York University, Marquette University and Babson College, he wrote: “ … law enforcement agencies need to target violent rioters who seek to silence speakers. It is a felony under civil rights law to conspire to deprive citizens of their Constitutional rights.”
He added: “In addition many states have laws (generally called ‘Klan laws’) that punish people who engage in mob violence or intimidation while masked.”
Hmmm. I never thought of that. Professor Reynolds teaches at University of Tennessee School of Law and probably knows something about the history of the KKK, so I checked out his idea and sure enough, Section 185 of the California Penal Code makes it, “unlawful to wear a mask or disguise to evade police.”
Section 182 of the California Penal Code makes conspiracy a felony, so when 150 rioters show up in Ninja costumes with masked faces and commit assault, battery and property damage of over half a million dollars, they could end up in San Quentin plus a tour in federal prison.
The Bay Area’s KTVU News reported a group calling itself By Any Mean Necessary claimed responsibility for the riots. Its leader, Yvette Felarca, told the station she has “no regrets” and that “the left has been far too timid for way too long.”
Additionally, UC Berkeley announced one of its employees is under FBI investigation for “beating up conservatives” during the riots.
Good leads. Now if they could just identify the “Black Bloc” criminals.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.