The University of California, Berkeley, announced Saturday that a conservative student group has canceled the so-called “Free Speech Week” it was organizing with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
The Berkeley Patriot’s four-day event was set to begin Sunday and would have been “open to all political ideologies, with speakers representing conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals,” the group said. Each day had a theme: feminism, Silicon Valley, Islam or higher education.
“It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the University was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events,” Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof said in a statement.
UC Berkeley reportedly planned to spend nearly a million dollars on security for the event. Yiannopoulos’ appearance on the university’s campus in February sparked riots in which attendees threw rocks, fireworks and bricks. University police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in response, and Berkeley officials estimated the school suffered $100,000 in damage.
Earlier this month, UC Berkeley also hosted conservative activist Ben Shapiro. The university spent $600,000 to provide security for the event for fear of potential violence.
On Saturday, Yiannopoulos held a news conference and blamed the university for the cancellation and declared that he would not be giving up — although he claimed he was “blind-sided” by the students’ announcement.
Nevertheless, he still planned to be on campus on Sunday and shared a picture on Instagram of his luggage.
“We will not be deterred,” he said. “We will proceed no matter what, in whatever format we can, to realize the promise of Free Speech Week and send a message that conservatives will not be bowed by pressure from academics, the media or anyone else.”
An email sent out by the self-described “troll” called for supporters to participate in a “March for Free Speech” through Berkeley’s campus at noon Sunday. He promised that a few of his fellow speakers and conservative activists, such as Mike Cernovich, Lauren Southern and Lisa De Pasquale, would be in attendance.
The email encouraged supporters to bring signs to the march.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Phil McCausland and Yelena Dzhanova