Milo Yiannopoulos' 'Free Speech Week' At Berkeley Falls Apart, Organizers Say

Lester Mason
September 23, 2017

Despite the reports of the events being cancelled, activist and Berkeley middle school teacher Yvette Felarca is scheduled to hold a press conference early Friday evening on the steps of Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

In a statement to KQED, Yiannopoulos's spokesman Zachary LeCompte-Gobel said that he "couldn't confirm" that Free Speech Week was canceled, but said that the Fyre Festival-esque implosion of its lineup would be "explained in the press conference" scheduled for Saturday on San Francisco Bay's Treasure Island.

The University of California, Berkeley is preparing to host several conservative speakers, including Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, on Wednesday as part of its "Free Speech Week". But he says it became clear to him that Milo, Inc. wasn't being totally forthcoming, and he says "it was made clear to me this week that this event definitely wasn't happening, and I had to drop out - I saw no reason to lie to the public and mislead people into thinking it was happening".

In addition, the Berkeley Patriot editor-in-chief Mike Wright previously confirmed in a text message to The Daily Californian that Free Speech Week has not been canceled.

Yiannopoulos hoped to generate controversy and media attention with the event, an echo of his attempted speech at the university in February that was eventually shut down by left-wing "antifa" demonstrators. And now some students on the right say this liberal academic bastion is squelching conservative speech. "Ever since Trump's election, it's been intense".

Some say it was the university's way of blocking this from taking place, but UC Berkeley's Chancellor Carol Christ says it's about campus security.

Four political demonstrations, starting with the Yiannopoulos event last February, have turned violent and prompted authorities to come up with new strategies as they struggle to balance free speech rights with preventing violence.

Students and faculty at UC Berkeley say they're getting exhausted of the campus being a political flashpoint.

"The United States Constitution guarantees free speech in an extraordinarily broad range", Christ says.

Faculty members are divided over the event, with many saying the university must defend free speech and respond to hate speech. "It doesn't protect from emotional harm, though emotional harm is real".

An open letter argued that many students, faculty and staff would feel unsafe at school because of the anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay rhetoric of numerous speakers.

This trend has continued this fall as conservative speaker Ben Shapiro was met with a riot-equipped police detail, protesters, and a media horde on September 14, for his scheduled talk in Zellerbach Hall.

She alleged in the complaint that members of the Berkeley Patriot feel that their freedom of speech, freedom of association and their right to equal protection have been denied by UC Berkeley.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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