VIDEO: Gaza protesters disrupt UC Berkeley dean's party, triggering responses over free speech

ByTara Campbell KGO logo
Thursday, April 11, 2024
VIDEO: Heated moments as protesters disrupt UC Berkeley dean's party
Gaza protesters disrupted a dinner party at a UC Berkeley dean's home, accusing his wife of assault, and drawing questions about free speech.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Free speech rights are being called into question after assault allegations and tense moments at a private dinner party at the home of University of California Berkeley faculty.

This happened during an annual dinner Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinksy and his wife Professor Catherine Fisk hold for students.

Now students are accusing Professor Fisk of assault.

Video shows the moments when Professor Fisk tries to take the microphone from a protester voicing support for the people in Gaza.

The protester then says "You don't have to get aggressive," to which Fisk responds "I'm not being aggressive."

"Please leave our house. You are guests at our house," Chemerinsky said.

The group protesting released a statement, saying in part:

"Fisk's assault was a symbol of the deeper Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and religious discrimination that runs rampant within the University of California administration."

Chemerinksy did not want to speak on camera but responded to the incident with a statement saying, "I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda."

UC Berkeley's Chancellor issued a statement saying while they support free speech, the university cannot condone using a private event for protest.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression agrees.

"There is this misconception that a lot of students have across the country right now that taking over someone else's event, disrupting their event is an exercise of first amendment rights and that's just wrong," said Nico Perrino, VP of the foundation.

Chemerinksy, who is Jewish, said he was recently the subject of antisemitic flyers posted on campus.

He says security will be present for two other dinners he has planned.