This February, there was a riot at UC Berkeley and a near riot at NYU over the invitation of speakers leftists do not like. Both are shocking stories that have gained extensive coverage. What has not been highlighted, however, is why a riot erupted in one place and why a near riot did not become a riot in the other.
The same group was involved in both incidents. A violent, brownshirt cabal known ironically as the “Antifa” (Anti-Fascists) organized to attack “Nazis.” And literally anything can get someone called a “Nazi.” My friend Katie Richter — after she appeared on “Fox & Friends” not long after a picture framing business refused to frame her photographs from Trump’s inauguration — was swamped with hate messages calling her a “Nazi” and wishing her bodily harm.
When Antifa set out to attack people at Berkeley, there was no effective police presence from the city to stop them.
The New York City Police Department, however, is not the Berkeley PD. The central pillar of the NYPD is that disorder is not tolerated. Situations are tackled quickly and decisively, leaving no room for escalation. And the bad guys know that the stuff they get away with in Ferguson, or Baltimore, or Berkeley, they won’t get away with in New York.
I was standing outside the NYU student center when Canadian Libertarian comedian Gavin McInnes was scheduled to speak. I couldn’t get inside the building because dozens of NYPD officers in bulletproof vests were denying access to anyone who did not have a current student ID. There was a good reason for this. NYU Antifa had loudly proclaimed their intention of stopping this event on their Facebook page.
On his way into the building, Gavin and his entourage was rushed by Antifa crew, though the only harm they could inflict was when one of them hurled himself over the scuffle and got close enough to Gavin to pepper spray him. Within moments, all the attackers were on the ground subdued by a police officer. Two of the Antifa people, apparently thinking I was on their side, told me that they had put a bounty out for anyone that could hurt Gavin.
Antifa still wasn’t getting the message though. So for the next few hours they mulled around, chanting about fighting fascism, about how they were going to “Off the Pigs,” about how the many black police officers were traitors (and other words I do not wish to repeat), so on and so forth. Every now and then they tried to start fights with Trump supporters, but the moment the first punch was thrown a police officer twice the troublemaker’s size would have him by the shirt collar and on the ground before anyone had time to get their cameras out.
Inside the building, Gavin was shouted down. The NYU administration did not throw the troublemakers out, so the talk could not continue. Antifa did shut down the speech — which was their goal — but it was a pyrrhic accomplishment for Antifa, as many of their “comrades” now have criminal records. And they now enjoy the contempt of hundreds of thousands of people who have seen the video of their antics on YouTube.
The real victory of the night went to the NYPD. NYU Antifa said repeatedly that they wanted to recreate the chaos and destruction of Berkeley. And they failed. They tested the Thin Blue Line, and the only “safe space” they found was the back of a police van.
Spyridon Mitsotakis is a writer and former research assistant to bestselling author Paul Kengor. He graduated from New York University with a degree in History. You can follow him on Twitter @SpyridonM.
Spyridon Mitsotakis is a writer and former research assistant to best-selling author Paul Kengor. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history.