FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — Police arrested seven people after scuffles and at least one serious fight broke out between protesters and people attending a speech by conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at a Southern California college Tuesday night.
Dozens of 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.”
While heated, 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 attacking 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.
At least two people were arrested for scuffles, university spokesman Jeff Cook said.
It was unclear why the others were arrested.
Dozens of 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.”
Most of the trouble came before the event, with only minor arguments and small skirmishes between protesters and Yiannopoulos supporters afterward.
The event comes after a series of other scheduled speeches by Yiannopoulos on what he has called his “Troll Academy Tour” have fallen through.
Yiannopoulos had been an incendiary writer for the conservative site Breitbart News, but resigned earlier this year after a video of him endorsing pedophilia resurfaced online.
He was banned from Twitter after a vitriolic social media campaign against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones.
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.
Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at Fullerton 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.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)