Berkeley says ‘Free Speech Week’ event is canceled
Campus organizers have officially canceled “Free Speech Week,” a four-day festival at the University of California, Berkeley, headlined by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
The conservative student group The Berkeley Patriot, which was organizing the event scheduled to begin Sunday, told the school that it would not be happening, the university confirmed Saturday morning.
Free Speech Week faced mounting logistical issues, and many anticipated the event would ultimately be canceled.
For weeks, headline speakers such as former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and conservative commentator Ann Coulter remained unconfirmed. Many others who were initially slated to appear, such as academic Charles Murray, commentator Heather Mac Donald, fired Google engineer James Damore, Blackwater founder Erik Prince and writer Lucian Wintrich, either dropped out or never confirmed their intention to come.
Mogulof said the university was prepared to spend “in excess of $1 million in order make these events safe.”
The university said it spent nearly $600,000 on a speaking event by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro last week, after threats and protests from the student body mandated heightened security for the event.
A prior appearance by Yiannopoulos at Berkeley sparked violent riots across campus, causing property damage in addition to the $200,000 in security costs. Coulter also reportedly cost the university $600,000 for a speaking appearance that was later canceled.
“UC-Berkeley hypocritically named this academic year its year of free speech, which is something you’d only do if you had a really serious PR problem, and the PR problem today is going to be worse. The fault for that lies squarely on UC Berkeley and no one else’s shoulders,” Yiannopoulos said.
He also said he refutes the media’s narrative that his organization is a “disorganized mess.”
“I understand there were some hiccups with speakers for which I take full responsibility,” he said. “Although it was an error with my staff, it’s down to me. But the blame for this event’s mutated form lies squarely with UC-Berkeley.”
To those supporters of his, many who traveled miles from out of state to see him, he said that they should know, “UC-Berkeley did this to you.”