The Libertarian Party of Chicago defends free speech, affirms non-aggression in wake of UC Berkeley riot

The Libertarian Party strongly supports the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, religion, expression, and assembly, and furthermore, stands committed to the principle of non-aggression. Indeed, the initiation of force in order to silence one’s political adversaries is directly opposed to the freedoms that America holds dear. It is because of these principles that The Libertarian Party of Chicago officially states our condemnation of the violence and aggression that occurred at UC Berkeley on the night of February 1, 2017. That evening, masked protesters took to the campus grounds of California’s flagship university and violently prevented conservative editorialist Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking. As Libertarians, we recognize the legitimate right to peacefully demonstrate against Mr. Yiannopoulos’ message, but we firmly condemn as illegitimate the violence and intimidation engaged in by some protesters to block Mr. Yiannopoulos’ right to speak.

The Libertarian Party takes an ethical stance against aggression of any kind used to achieve one’s aims, be they political, economic, or to block another individual’s right to speak and express his or herself. Further, we recognize that using violence and intimidation to achieve one’s political aims is the very definition of terrorism.  While we do not agree with various aspects of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ message, we do fully support his right to speak at an event to which he was invited.

Reports indicate that some protesters threw bricks and shot fireworks at police and at the building in which Mr. Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak.  Police barricades were used as battering rams to break windows and force entry into campus buildings.  Video has emerged of masked protesters viciously beating people to the point of unconsciousness, using pepper spray on objectors to the protest, and blocking and attacking passing vehicles.  While not all protesters are reported to have engaged in these acts of violence, those that did have lent their illegitimacy to the message that the peaceful protesters were attempting to communicate. Furthermore, we do not hold UC Berkeley responsible for the violent actions taken against Mr. Yiannopoulos, nor do we hold the majority of protesters responsible for the actions of a violent few.

This violence hits close to home for Chicagoans.  On March 11th, 2016, protesters disrupted a Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, causing the protest to be canceled before Mr. Trump could take the stage.  Protesters started fights with rally attendees, rushed the stage and briefly took over the microphone, while outside more protesters gathered, some blocking ambulances from taking the wounded to receive medical treatment.

Two months later, Mr. Yiannopoulos spoke at DePaul University in Chicago, where he was interrupted by hecklers. He was eventually forced to leave prematurely when protesters broke into the event, took over the stage and the microphone, and began hurling insults at the spectators.

We stand for the rights of all individuals to speak, assemble and express themselves freely — and we stand against the use of violence, force, intimidation, and aggression to rob others of these inherent rights. We find this alarming trend of intimidation and violence in the face of opposing opinions to be unacceptable behavior in a civilized society, and as Libertarians, we firmly condemn such methods. We welcome those who feel the same to join our cause as either a member or an ally.

In Liberty,

The Libertarian Party of Chicago 

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