Tag Archives: UC Berkeley

Protesters Shut Down Peter Thiel Event At UC Berkeley

Berkeley, CA- Dozens of protesters charged through UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall on Wednesday night, effectively terminating an event featuring PayPal co-founder and entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

Thiel was at the campus to give a lecture titled “Developing the Developed World” for the student organization Berkeley Forum. He had finished his lecture and was participating in a student-moderated session when the protesters entered the forum.

The Daily Californian reported that about 50 protesters stood outside of Wheeler Hall, which was locked, and were pounding on the doors. As Thiel and the moderator were attempting to stay on course with the discussion, the protesters eventually made their way inside and stormed the stage, chanting statements such as “no NSA”, “no police state”, and “black lives matter”. The shouting and chanting from protesters were met with boos from the audience members who in turn shouted “go home” and “Peter Thiel matters”, and the event was ultimately cancelled.

Berkeley Forum President Pierre Bourbonnais said that he had been asked earlier if protests might disrupt the event with Thiel and he “didn’t think the protests would interfere.”

“It’s pretty unimaginable and unfortunate,” Bourbonnais said of the disruption. “I’m in support of free speech, but this is not the right venue for that. I’m very disappointed.”

A statement was released by Berkeley Forum, which stated “After being turned away on their first attempt, a group of demonstrators on the fifth night of protests against police brutality made its way into Wheeler Auditorium despite the best efforts of Cal Performances and Berkeley Forum staff, campus security, and audience members. The group made its way into the auditorium and on to the stage. At this point, out of concern for Peter Thiel’s safety, we escorted him past demonstrators blocking the exits and out of the venue.We apologize to our audience members for the unprecedented interruption and that the event became an unsafe environment.”

The statement also noted that “The Berkeley Forum is founded on the principles of free discussion and intellectual exchange. Moments before the demonstrators stormed the auditorium, Peter Thiel was preparing to answer a question regarding his views on the value of political protest, after which the event was to open up to audience questions. Sadly, the opportunity to engage in productive discussion on the matter was lost.”