This week we’ve been examining the ugly antics of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a California-based “anti-fascist” group whose members carry out violent protests at which they behave like a bunch of fascists. We’ve been focusing especially on BAMN leader Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle-school teacher, and on the group’s successful attempt on February 1 last to close down a scheduled lecture by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, BAMN caused about $100,000 in damages on the UC Berkeley campus and about four or five times that much damage in downtown Berkeley.
One of the questions that were widely raised after BAMN’s Berkeley hijinks was why the police stood down during the whole thing. Videos taken in the midst of the violence showed Berkeley police officers standing nearby but staying completely out of it, allowing thugs to take over the city streets in which they are pledged to keep the peace. There was a total of one arrest. Police officers asked by reporters about their failure to intervene replied by suggesting that the matter be taken up with the mayor and chief of police. Obviously they had been ordered not to interfere with BAMN.
Attention turned, then, to Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin, whose public response to the incident was to call Yiannopoulos – falsely – a “white nationalist” and to say that he was not welcome in Berkeley. Some very interesting answers have since emerged. On April 21, the Heat Street website reported that Arreguin is a member of BAMN’s Facebook page. Yes, that’s right: the mayor of Berkeley belongs to the violent anarchist group – a group identified by the FBI and State Department as a terrorist organization – that did hundreds of thousands of damage in his own city. He and Felarca are also Facebook friends. An activist interviewed by Heat Street described BAMN as being “like a cult.”
As it happens, Arreguin’s entire career has been in local Berkeley politics. After attending UC Berkeley, he served on many local government boards, including the Rent Stabilization Board, from 2004 to 2008. For the next eight years, he was a member of the City Council. He has only been mayor since December 1, 2016. Arreguin’s own Facebook page, by the way, features a picture of him with his cat. The cat is named Che.
Yiannopoulous isn’t the only speaker to have been targeted lately by the punks at Berkeley. Conservative author Ann Coulter, who has written a dozen or so New York Times bestsellers, was invited by the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to give a speech on campus. It was originally scheduled for today; campus officials, using the excuse of security concerns, canceled the event, but after an international outcry offered to let her give a talk on May 2, during a week known at Berkeley as Dead Week because everybody’s busy studying for final exams. Coulter insisted she would come today as planned; meanwhile the College Republicans threatened to sue the college if it didn’t come up with a suitable venue. Yesterday, however, Coulter announced that she would not be coming to Berkeley after all, because the College Republicans and YAF, also citing security concerns, had changed its mind about hosting her. “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away,” Coulter lamented.