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Feb 03, 2017 06:26 AM EST

Congresswoman Calls Out Trump For Threatening To Cut UC Berkeley Funding

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California's Rep. Barbara Lee has called out President Donald Trump for threatening to pull federal funding from the University of California - Berkeley. The threat came after Milo Yiannopoulos's event was cancelled due to protests and riots.

BuzzFeed News reported that the talk of Trump supporter and alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled after peaceful protests against the event turned violent. A masked group of protesters rioted and started fires, broke windows and refused to follow the police, which prompted university officials to cancel the speech.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to issue a threat saying that UC Berkeley's federal funds may be cut off. This is because the school "does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view."

In a statement, Rep. Lee called out the "empty threat" as an "abuse of power." She also confirmed that she will "continue to stand up to President Trump's overreach and defend the rights of our students and faculty."

UC Berkeley also issued a statement on the actions of the violent protesters who were said to have invaded the campus. The school admitted that the opinions of Milo Yiannopoulos "were in marked opposition" to its basic values but that they respected his right to come to the campus and speak since he was invited by a legitimate student group.

The institution described the violence as "an attack on the fundamental values of the university." UC Berkeley confirmed that it will continue its commitment to free speech.

According to CNBC, Ed Wasserman, dean at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, said that President Trump's threat and tweets should not be taken seriously. He described the president's tweeting style as similar to "the way someone doodles on a scratchpad" during a meeting.

Wasserman added that Yiannopoulos's opinions are seen as hate speech by his critics but noted that, in this case, it's a murky line. He also expressed his concern over the political divisions in the country as a threat to freedom of speech.

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