By Steven Tavares.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has only been on the job over a month, but his first brush with national media attention may not have fared well. After a near riot ensued in Berkeley last Thursday in response to a scheduled speech at U.C. Berkeley by right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, Arreguin’s response was quizzical.
In a tweet, Arreguin referred to Yiannopolous, also a senior editor for the rightwing flamethrowing website Breitbart News, as a “white nationalist.”
I consider much of what Mr. Yiannopoulos says to be hateful. But I regret and apologize for the white national label.
— Jesse Arreguin #MaskOnToMoveOn 😷 (@JesseArreguin) February 2, 2017
Later, Arreguin’s office released a statement both apologizing for using the term, but essentially using the similar portrayal of “alt-rightest.” The tweet, also containing the mayor’s statement, attracted more than 1,200 responses, from mostly enraged right wing commenters.
“Unfortunately, last night, a small minority of the protesters who had assembled in opposition to a speaking engagement featuring a prominent alt-rightest engaged in violence and property damage,” said Arreguin. “They also provided the ultra-nationalist far right exactly the images they want to use to try to discredit the vast majority of peaceful protesters in Berkeley and across America who are deeply concerned about where our country is heading.”
In addition, the statement appeared to lay blame on others for the aftermath of the scheduled event. Arreguin said the decision to invite Yiannopolous and to cancel the event. The latter move raised hackles among conservatives who faulted the public university for violating free speech.