Relentless alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who along with some alleged conservative/alt-right financial backing is dead-set on taking UC Berkeley to task for trying to stymie or cancel the Free Speech Week he has been single-handedly promoting for several months the details of and guests at which appear just to have been hammered out last week put out the above video and this statement today to counter statements the campus newspaper and university officials have made suggesting that Free Speech Week has not been well organized or properly scheduled with campus offices. The ostensible host for Free Speech Week, scheduled to run from September 24 to September 27, is a campus group/publication we have not heard much about before now because it possibly only barely exists. The Berkeley Patriot note that Milo even gets the name wrong in the video title above, calling them The Berkeley Patriots has a seemingly defunct website and a Facebook presence that was only created three weeks ago. UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof has previously suggested that the publication/group only represents six to ten people, and it's unclear why the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America Foundation, who previously tried to bring Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter to campus, aren't associated with this event.
The Daily Californian reported Saturday via Mogulof that the Berkeley Patriot had missed several deadlines for confirming the venues it needs for Free Speech Week, and "failed to provide sufficient payments for the use of Zellerbach and Wheeler halls." There was apparently an August 18 deadline for receiving payments for use of the venues, and Yiannopoulos says he wired the necessary funds, over $65,000, to the university this morning (Monday September 18) at 8 a.m. ABC 7, CBS 5 and others also reported that the required deposit, due Friday, was not paid, and the university may therefore ask that the events get rescheduled.
In his statement, Yiannopoulos denies the administration's claims about the student group being "inept," and says he has an email chain to prove that due diligence has been performed in terms of scheduling security and venues for the four-day event. He also contends, via "a member of the Berkeley Patriot familiar with the situation," that the university provided a contract deadline with 90-minute deadline for signing it on Friday, and a vice-chancellor still failed to accept the contract.
"It’s quite simple: The University didn’t want the event to happen, but they couldn’t cancel outright, so they needed to make it look like it was our own fault,” says Pranav Jandhyala, listed News Editor for the Berkeley Patriot. "What we’ve experienced throughout this entire four months has been bureaucratic stonewalling."
KTVU also got a representative from the group, UC Berkeley student Bryce Kasamoto, to speak on camera in video you can see here, and they also spoke to a rep for Berkeley College Republicans, Troy Worden, who said he hoped Thursday's event with Ben Shapiro which cost the university $600,000 would be a "model" for handling security and protests around Free Speech Week.
Milo also suggests that the university itself leaked a preliminary speaker list last month, including Coulter and Steve Bannon, to the liberal media because they were "trying to drum up opposition to the event. Actually, the university deliberately gave a heads-up to domestic terrorist organizations like Antifa, which got a month-long head start on Berkeley police."
All this seems disingenuous, especially given that Milo mentioned Coulter as a speaker back in April, and the fact that the Berkeley Patriot has only had a Facebook page for less than a month and when Yiannopoulos was first talking about Free Speech Week, the Republican student groups that had backed both his canceled February appearance and a subsequently canceled appearance by Coulter in April were the College Republicans and the YAF, not the Berkeley Patriot, which appears to have emerged solely in service of Free Speech Week. (A threatening lawyer letter regarding the Coulter cancellation was written on those two formers groups' behalf, with no mention of the Berkeley Patriot.)
In a Facebook post today, the Berkeley Patriot declares to the university, "Free Speech Week will happen with or without your venues."
Meanwhile, faculty members at UC Berkeley have called for all students to boycott the events and have called off their classes next week if Free Speech Week goes forward, in the interest of student safety though the Daily Cal clarifies today that the majority of STEM department faculty will still hold classes.
And, as we've mentioned here on SFist, despite the enormous cost of simply hosting Ben Shapiro on campus last week, the university has a PR battle to lose here if they try to cancel the events, no matter how well or poorly organized. Milo and his ilk have been wanting all along to ignite conservative and alt-right ire by getting the headline "UC Berkeley Cancels Free Speech Week" blared across their media channels in other words, they want nothing more than for it to be officially cancelled, to further the narrative that liberal institutions are now the fascist ones who want to censor free speech.
Those on the left, including all those faculty members, of course want this canceled in large part because it has little to do with the actual speeches and everything to do with inciting riots. As outgoing chancellor Nicholas Dirks said earlier this year, "We are under attack from both sides."