An event hosted by METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich at the University of California-Berkeley earlier this month was interrupted by liberal students who stormed the stage in protest of subpar conditions endured by contract workers on campus. One student allegedly assaulted Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff during the incident.
Benioff was on campus on March 2 to participate in the public forum intended to explore the creative culture of the Bay Area through conversations with other leading cultural figures from the community, including Ulrich and the drummer’s father, Torben Ulrich, who at 87 is still active in music, film and poetry.
Members of the Student Labor Committee, the group that crashed the event, reportedly urged a boycott of all speakers until the administration agreed to their demands.
Having heard that the Student Labor Committee intended to disrupt the event, Lars at the start of the evening offered the mic and the stage to anyone who wanted to address the audience. One protester accepted the invite, and after that, the event went on as planned. Later in the evening, Benioff was Ulrich‘s guest interviewee.
Eventually protesters stormed the stage and attacked Benioff. In videos of the incident (see below), it appears one student was able to bypass police and grab Benioff before being restrained.
In an op-ed for The Daily Californian, shocked members of the UC community described the spectacle as “violence dressed up as protest.” They wrote: “This disruption, however, emblemized neither. More than just an attempt to exercise the heckler’s veto, this was a planned, violent, bullying act, with the express purpose of destroying a core activity of the campus.
“All groups at UC Berkeley have the right to free expression, but none have the right to prevent others from doing likewise, least of all by using violence. The disruption last week was not an example of protest, it was not the exercise of free speech.”