Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw federal funds from the University of California at Berkeley, following the cancellation of a talk by the controversial pundit Milo Yiannopoulos at its campus this week amid rioting by protestors.

Yiannopoulos is the senior editor of Breitbart News, the ‘alt-right’ news outlet that supported Trump throughout his presidential election campaign last year and which has been accused of propagating ‘fake news’ with its fervently anti-immigration agenda. The site’s former executive chairman Steve Bannon has also been appointed as Trump’s chief strategist.

Donald TrumpDonald Trump had his say on the cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos' talk at UC Berkeley this week

An initial group of around 1,500 peaceful protestors is thought to have been ambushed by a smaller wave of armed protestors, dressed in black, started hurling objects, starting fires and smashing windows. Soon afterwards, Yiannopoulos’ lecture was cancelled and the controversial figure was evacuated from the campus when police decided they couldn’t guarantee his safety.

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” the newly inaugurated president tweeted on Wednesday night, following the disturbances.

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“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” UC Berkeley Police chief Margo Bennet said afterwards. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or arrests made following the breaking story.

“The Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down,” Yiannopoulos said in a social media video from his hotel room shortly after the evacuation.

However, his past comments have been described as racist and misogynistic. In 2016, a campaign of harassment against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones led to him being banned from Twitter.

UC Berkeley’s campus Republican club had sponsored Wednesday’s talk, and said it their “constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs”.

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