Donald Trump has intervened in a row over free speech after violent protests erupted at a top US university over by alt-right British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos speaking there.
The president accused UC Berkeley, which had planned to host a talk about cultural appropriation by Breitbart editor Yiannopoulos, of censorship and violence.
He also appeared to threaten to pull federal funding to the west coast institution, which has almost 40,000 students.
In a tweet shared this morning, Trump wrote: “If UC Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Breitbart’s former chairman Steve Bannon is now White House chief strategist after stepping down to become CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Yiannopoulos also accused the university of not wanting his speech to happen, saying in a video on his Facebook page that police officers had taken a “sit back and let it happen” approach to the protests.
The tech journalist was evacuated and the university was put on lockdown after violence broke out at a 1,500-strong demonstration against his appearance on campus, which was due to take place on Wednesday.
According to university police, a smaller group of protestors toppled lamp poles, started fires and hurled objects at officers.
The Guardian also reported that protesters wearing black face masks and carrying glittery flags set off fireworks and smashed windows.
Photos also show that the phrase “Kill Trump” had been spray-painted around the campus.
UC Berkeley has yet to respond to Trump’s claims. However, the university’s chancellor Nicholas Dirks had earlier refused to block the event, saying it would be unconstitutional.
“Mr Yiannopoulos is not the first of his ilk to speak at Berkeley and he will not be the last,” Dirks said in a statement.
“In our view, Mr. Yiannopoulos is a troll and provocateur who uses odious behaviour in part to ‘entertain,’ but also to deflect any serious engagement with ideas.”
In the UK, a talk he was due to give at his former secondary school was cancelled after the Department for Education’s Counter extremism unit raised safety concerns over the “threat of demonstrations”.