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A Statement Regarding the Peter Thiel Address

The following statement is from the Berkeley Forum Office of the President.

BERKELEY, California―December 10, 2014―Tonight, our event featuring Peter Thiel was interrupted and prematurely brought to an end by a group of protestors. The Berkeley Forum is a non-partisan organization that invites guest speakers who span a variety of viewpoints and perspectives to the University of California, Berkeley. We hope for the views of our speakers to be both provocative and inspiring. However, the structure of our events is meant to provide our speakers a chance to share their viewpoints, not to have them silenced.

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. Ultimately, everyone made it out of the venue without serious reported injury.

While we respect and sympathize with the protestor’s right to demonstrate, the right of free speech and discussion is a two-way street. 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. The Berkeley Forum remains committed to the right of free speech and challenging the viewpoints of both our speakers and audience members.

The Berkeley Forum is an entirely student-run organization whose events are free to UC Berkeley campus members, and exists for the benefit of the community. Over 2 months of work from our student members was put in to the preparation of this event. In addition, we hosted attendees from around the world who came to hear the address. We would like to thank Peter Thiel for sharing his experiences with the community tonight, and we will continue to do our best to provide an outlet for discussing and challenging diverse viewpoints at UC Berkeley.

About the Berkeley Forum
The Berkeley Forum is a non-partisan, student-run organization at the University of California, Berkeley. Founded in 2012, the Forum organizes panels, debates, and talks by leading experts from a wide variety of fields.

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