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Several members of California's congressional delegation derided a tweet from President Trump on Thursday morning that seemed to be a threat to cut federal funding to UC Berkeley because of a violent protest.
A speech by conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos at the university was canceled Wednesday after protests against his appearance became violent.
"If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?" Trump tweeted.
California's members, including one Republican, quickly defended the flagship campus of the UC system, which receives billions of dollars from the federal government for things like research, student aid and healthcare programs.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), whose district includes the university, said in a statement that she was disappointed the protest turned violent, but cutting funding to a major U.S. university isn't a valid response to protest.
"Berkeley has a proud history of dissent and students were fully within their rights to protest peacefully. However, I am disappointed by the unacceptable acts of violence last night which were counterproductive and dangerous," she said. “President Donald Trump cannot bully our university into silence. Simply put, President Trump’s empty threat to cut funding from UC Berkeley is an abuse of power."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents nearby San Francisco, defended UC Berkeley as well.
"Berkeley is the center of the free speech movement. I think that the protesters have a right to free speech as well. If there is an infiltration of the crowd by those that are less than peaceful, that should be addressed," she said.
Fullerton Rep. Ed Royce was the first Republican in the delegation to address the president's tweet, saying the university shouldn't be punished because a protest became violent.
“Cal students on work-study or scholarships shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a select few, and I’ll push back against any move to do so. UC Berkeley was right to embrace a free exchange of ideas," Royce said. "Those who destroyed campus property or committed acts of violence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”