Eleven arrested during protest against conservative comedian at NYU

(Reuters) - Eleven people have been arrested outside New York University during a heated protest against a conservative comedian who gave a speech at the school, police said on Friday.

A sweatshirt and pennant are seen inside the bookstore at New York University in New York, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A group that organized the protest against Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes said he was known for using incendiary language, according to local media.

McInnes said on Twitter he had been sprayed with pepper spray, but “being called a Nazi burned way more.”

The protesters face charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and criminal mischief after they were taken into custody during a demonstration against McInnes, who made an appearance at the university late on Thursday, a New York City Police Department spokesman said.

Protesters scuffled with police officers and McInnes supporters outside the university’s student center in New York City, where he was invited to speak by NYU College Republicans, local media reported.

The arrests came a day after protesters smashed windows and set fires at University of California at Berkeley during a demonstration against the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News, the right-wing website formerly headed by presidential adviser Steve Bannon.

NYU College Republicans on Facebook described McInnes as a Canadian writer, actor and comedian who has appeared on Fox News and The Blaze.

“Our intention was not to advocate for McInnes’s views, in fact many of us differ with him when it comes to certain ideas,” the group said in a statement posted on social media. “The purpose of this event was to promote free speech and not to promote certain ideas.”

Student Tamara Fine said to an NBC affiliate: “I’m dumbfounded that NYU would invite somebody who is a hate speaker.”

McInnes’ speech was cut short when protesters rushed into the room where he was speaking and began interrupting him, NYU spokesman John Beckman told News 4 New York, a NBC affiliate reported.

Early on Friday, President Donald Trump appeared to weigh in on recent protests, tweeting: “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Bernadette Baum