A young woman wearing a red “Make Bitcoin Great Again” hat, in the style of popular Trump campaign apparel, was maced in front of television cameras as violent protesters destroyed parts of downtown Berkeley Wednesday night. The events unfolded after a speaking engagement by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has penned pro-Bitcoin pieces, was cancelled.
‘Make Bitcoin Great Again’
Kiara Robles, who regularly contributes to Github on Bitcoin matters, sported a red “Make Bitcoin Great Again” hat a la the President’s popular hat. A graphic scene unfolded before television cameras as Ms. Robles was pepper-sprayed by an unknown person wearing black gloves. In a video gone viral among the Bitcoin community, a hand can be seen reaching towards Ms. Robles from behind the cameras before she is sprayed in the face.
“I’m looking to make a statement by just being here and I think the protesters are doing the same”, Ms. Robles, who identifies as gay, was saying. “Props to the ones who are doing it non-violently, but I think that’s a very rare thing indeed”. For her, the violence was about to hit close to home.
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) February 2, 2017
After ABC 7 published the video showing the attack, the Bitcoin community took to the internet to speak out against the violence and support one of their ilk. The China-based BTCC, one of the largest Bitcoin companies in the world and producer of the hat, condemned the attack and violence on Twitter.
“Our hearts go out to @kiarafrobles who was attacked @UCBerkeley yesterday while wearing a BTCC Make Bitcoin Great Again cap”, the multi-service provider wrote. “We condemn senseless attacks based on what people are wearing or their perceived political affiliation”.
— BTCC (@YourBTCC) February 2, 2017
The company added: “Thank you for supporting #bitcoin @kiarafrobles; we stand with you”.
On Reddit, an AMA request featured comments by Ms. Robles. She first thanked everyone for their support. The hat didn’t survive the melee.
“Buuurned”, she replied to an inquiry about its condition. “Will pay in bitcoin for another”, she recounted the experience in Reddit comments.
“Being pepper-sprayed is not nearly as bad as watching your friends get it too”, Ms. Robles lamented. “It was the worst.. to feel totally helpless. There is no way to even remotely defend yourself after that, but I guess that’s the point”.
Protests Engulf Berkeley
Various groups diverged on the Berkeley campus as “polytechnics, smoke, strife, and anger” manifested. Groups defined Mr. Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric as hate speech, some of whom shot fireworks at the building where he was set to speak, while others defended the gay Brit’s right to free speech.
According to the local ABC affiliate, there were approximately 400 active protesters and some 300 people looking on. As the night continued, protesters took to the streets of Berkeley carrying signs as some threw rocks at buildings. Banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America were reportedly vandalized, with broken glass scattered across the concrete. “Kill Trump” could be seen spray-painted on buildings.
In a news conference, officials condemned the violence. U.C. Berkeley police and university officials warned students not to exit dorms and ordered individuals to shelter-in-place.
“In a free country with free speech in iconic Berkeley, no matter what a person’s politics, we were all witness to violence”, Wayne Freedman wrote for ABC 7.
Based on her Reddit comments, it’s likely that Ms. Robles will hold an AMA on Reddit soon.
What are your thoughts about the Berkeley protests and Ms. Robles’ attack for wearing a ‘Make Bitcoin Great Again’ hat? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of ABC 7 Berkeley, BTCC, Twitter, Mercado Libero
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