Allegations Surface on Twitter that Riot Police Ordered to ‘Stand Down’ in UC Berkeley Protests

February 2, 2017 Updated: February 2, 2017

There are claims that riot police were told to stand down during a Wednesday event at the University of California, Berkeley.

Several photos circulating on Twitter show what appear to be dozens of officers and campus police standing in a student union building as the protests went on. 

Jenny Luna, of Mother Jones, captioned a photo she posted on Twitter: “SWAT team stands in Berkeley campus cafe, watching protesters of Milo Yiannopoulos gather in the main plaza.”

And a reporter, Megan Goldsby, with KCBS, wrote: “SWAT teams are ready inside Berkeley’s student union after protests turn violent.” 

But a user on the popular pro-Trump subreddit The_Donald claimed: “I was at UC Berkeley last night. Here is a pic I got after the speech cancelation of nearly 100 SWAT and campus police sitting inside the student union building doing NOTHING while people were getting beaten outside. WHO told them to stand down?” The user included a photo showing numerous officers inside a building, standing and waiting.

A UC Berkeley student on the scene, however, gave a conflicting account. 

“More Just for clarification, the protests at #Berkeley were mostly peaceful. The media only picked up on the violence. Riot police are everywhere,” Eric Hovagim wrote on Twitter.

“The violence was sparked by anarchist groups on campus who invaded an otherwise peaceful student-run event,” he later wrote.

The allegations that police were told to stand down were heavily pushed by right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich, who on Thursday afternoon, tweeted that the mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, told police to stand down “and for inciting riots,” while claiming that the FBI’s civil rights section opened an investigation into the matter.

But Arreguin said in a statement that “the strategy deployed by police was not my decision, but the decision of the department based on professional judgment of the police department.”

The mayor also tweeted: “I abhor violence. The rioters who descended on Berkeley do not represent my values or Berkeley values.”