The Trump supporter building the wall at Sather Gate is NOT a student
He’s a right-wing activist
The two so-called “Trump supporters” and “Berkeley students” building a miniature cardboard brick wall on Sproul Plaza today are not who they claim to be – in fact, they’re undercover journalists with the website Project Veritas.
The man in the video is James O’Keefe, an individual famous for his undercover footage and “gotcha!” videos of unsuspecting individuals. Today, he chose the UC Berkeley campus and the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) as a target for his latest deceit.
“James O’Keefe tries to drum up outrage and ride BCR’s coattails. He doesn’t know that Trump’s message isn’t a joke or publicity stunt,” Anthony Limon, a BCR board member, told The Tab.
“BCR’s recent problems with those opposing Trump shouldn’t take a backseat to someone hoping to get back in the limelight. Trump’s campaign isn’t a joke or a publicity stunt and to see it depicted as such for an extra 15 minutes of fame is really a shame.”
At about 9:30am, an unfamiliar female approached the Berkeley College Republicans’ 9/11 display on Memorial Glade asking to speak to club leadership. She introduced herself as “Marisa” and explained that she was staging a Trump demonstration on Sproul and needed a volunteer to help her film the event, claiming that she had contacted “Laura” in the club and that “Laura” had agreed to help. BCR has no current active member with the first name “Laura”.
However, upon further pressing by suspicious club board members, she admitted that she was an undercover journalist, and that she was completing a project for Project Veritas. She exchanged contact information with a board member, and again asked for help videotaping the event before walking back to Sproul Plaza to join James.
Four members of the Berkeley College Republicans walked to Sproul to investigate the context of the event and were introduced to O’Keefe, who did not reveal his first name, while he was taping a cell phone to a pillar near Sather Gate. James explained that he and “Marisa” would be chalking Trump’s name around the plaza, and invited BCR members to join; two agreed to help stage the innocuous demonstration. However, James and “Marisa” quickly emerged with large cardboard cutouts resembling fences and garbage bags full of fake cardboard bricks and stated they would “build a wall”.
Upon realizing the extent of the event, BCR club President Jose Diaz explained to the pair that he was uncomfortable with what they were doing, and left the scene. 3 club members remained behind to watch the scene unfold and take photos and video. Immediately, the Berkeley College Republicans released statements on Facebook and Twitter explicitly separating the club from any involvement with the staged demonstration.
Since the fake demonstration on Sproul Plaza this morning, dozens of UC Berkeley students have liked, commented on, and shared posts attacking the demonstrators and inaccurately associating the fake Trump supporters with the Berkeley College Republicans. In an interview with The Tab, James explained that he is not associated with the club, but falsely claimed that he was a student of the university. However, despite James’ statement, his actions have resulted in undue backlash for campus Republicans.
“These individuals are purposely being incendiary to further their terrible click bait journalism, without recognizing the possible consequences that might befall those peacefully tabling for BCR,” Erik Ho, a BCR member, told The Tab. “I might not support Trump, but those that do don’t deserve to be victims of violence or to have their freedom of speech stifled. ”
Within an hour of the formation of the cardboard wall, over 100 students had gathered around the display to chant “F**k your wall” and “F**k Trump”, kick and throw the cardboard bricks, and stomp on a Donald Trump cutout. Students continued to harass O’Keefe and the female working with him until the two eventually left the campus.
Though O’Keefe has yet to admit to his lies, he is connected to promotion of the incident online. This afternoon, he retweeted a post by a UC Berkeley student with just 339 followers that stated, “Trump supporters are building a tiny wall out of foam blocks on Sproul Plaza and people keep kicking it down.”
The Trump supporters are building a tiny wall out of foam blocks on Sproul Plaza and people keep kicking it down.
Gotta love Berkeley.
— David Cadena (@HeroWithACptlZ) September 12, 2016