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Masked men clash with police while students protest at California university

Protest against right-wing speaker at California university turns violent

CALIFORNIA: Hundreds of protesters at the University of California at Berkeley smashed windows, set fires and clashed with police as they forced a right-wing speaker to cancel his appearance at the liberal-leaning institution.

Two hours before far-right Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos was to give a speech at the student union on Wednesday, protesters tossed barricades and rocks through the building's windows and set a generator on fire near the entrance.

Police ordered the protesters to disperse as the school put the campus on lockdown.

The demonstrators also tossed bricks and fireworks at police who fired rubber pellets at the crowd, said SFGate.com, a news outlet in San Francisco.

"We shut down the event. It was great. Mission accomplished," a protester told CNN.

Some 150 "masked agitators" were responsible for the violence during the otherwise peaceful protest of about 1,500 people, the university said in a statement, noting that the school "is proud of its history and legacy as home of the Free Speech Movement" in the 1960s.

CNN reported that many of the protesters voiced opposition to US President Donald Trump.

Many of his executive orders and proposed policies have been met by largely peaceful protests.

One protester at Berkeley held a sign that read: "No Safe Space for Racists", while others danced to hip hop music, a Facebook Live feed showed.

Protesters later marched near the campus, smashing windows and car windshields while clashing with police.

Mr Yiannopoulos, whose Twitter account was suspended last year after he was accused of participating in an online harassment of a black actress, criticised "the Left", saying in a statement it was "absolutely terrified of free speech and will do anything to shut it down".

He also said on Fox News that he was evacuated by police.

"It's a liberal campus so they hate libertarians or conservatives who dare to express an opinion on their campuses," he said.

"They particularly don't like me." - REUTERS

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