Milo Yiannopoulos and alt-right friends Mike Cernovich and Pamela Gellar appeared as promised at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus Sunday, although without amplified sound and with only a few dozen people gathered to see them others were there to shout him down in protest, and many more were still waiting in a security queue outside some barricades all Milo did was say a few words, sing the national anthem, sign some autographs, and leave.
As KQED notes, neither Yiannopoulos nor the guests he brought gave any speeches at all, and little to no violence occurred despite a lot of shouting.
As the East Bay Times reports, security arrangements for this truncated Free Speech Week stunt, which lasted all of about 15 minutes, will cost the university around $800,000, and included importing police from as far away as Vacaville. In total, 11 arrests were made, both near the campus and later in the day at Civic Center Park. Yiannopoulos claims he fled the scene because he had been told "antifa" were approaching, but the university says he left of his own accord.
University spokesman Dan Mogulof called it "probably the most expensive photo opp in the university’s history." (See this op-ed in the New York Times discussing how universities can continue to justify such expenses for events with "scant academic value.")
Video below, via Berkeleyside, shows some of the scene as protesters and Milo supporters faced off against each other, and comments afterwards by university police chief Margo Bennett.
Michael Heaney, a University of Michigan professor who studies the sociology of protest movements, spoke to the Chronicle about what he saw go down with these events and he suggests Yiannopoulos is just like one of many people in social movements who try to gain attention for themselves and galvanize others, and fail. "That makes him typical," Heaney says.
Despite having originally planned Free Speech Week as a four-day event featuring an array of prominent conservative and alt-right speakers, it was suggested from the outset that Yiannopoulos always intended for the event to fail, so that he would have the opportunity to blame the university for thwarting it, and therefore, censoring freedom of speech.
Reports from multiple speakers, both those who were invited by MILO Inc., and those like ex-Googler James Damore who says he was never even asked despite being put on the schedule, suggest a fairly chaotic operation and one that may or may not have been totally genuine.
Yiannopoulos held up various alleged payments he made to the university has proof of his sincere intentions for Free Speech Week, including an alleged payment of $65,000 for venue rentals, although it was made clear last week that he and the sponsoring student organization, the Berkeley Patriot, had not secured the venues within the university's deadlines.
The Berkeley Patriot officially backed out of Free Speech Week on Saturday, however, one conservative speaker invited by MILO Inc., Lucian Wintrich, told Mogulof that the cancellation sounded pretty well decided as of Wednesday and as Berkeleyside reports, the group also canceled their reservation for Anna Head Alumnae Hall on Wednesday. Wintrich earlier said that while reps for MILO Inc. were publicly insisting the event was still on early last week, privately they were saying very different things, and being generally "shifty."
This guy is riding his bike through the crowd screaming anti-immigrant messages. Spit on me after asking how much $ I make. pic.twitter.com/Q6Lg8RW8sB— David DeBolt (@daviddebolt) September 24, 2017
Berkeleyside went to Yianoppoulos's hotel room Saturday where he happily answered reporters' questions. He explained some of the confusion we've all had about the Berkeley Patriot and who they are, since the group seemed to have just formed recently. He claimed that Berkeley College Republicans and the Berkeley Patriot were essentially made up of the same people, however some maneuvering had to occur to keep the Young America's Foundation happy that conservative student group has listed Milo among those not approved for campus speaking events, and they've threatened to pull their funding for a lawsuit against the university if BCR were to bring Milo to campus.
Furthermore, Yiannopoulos says to Berkeleyside, "[The Berkeley Patriot members] are much more easily bullied and intimidated than I am. I am not easily intimidated Would I spend $100,000 on something that is relying on a 20-year-old who is petrified and intimidated and has a different opinion every day because he’s been bullied left, right and center by the college? Of course I wouldn’t. I am not deranged. I would have much rather spent [the money] on Dior."
As the Daily Californian reports, that is it for Free Speech Week, and Milo won't be returning to campus this week, despite some professors having called off classes through Wednesday out of concern for students' safety.
Berkeleyside says Milo vows to return to Berkeley "every year" if necessary, and he continues to suggest he'll get "Uncle Steve" Bannon to come with him as well. "But first," they tell us, "Yiannopoulos is off to Hawaii to marry his partner, John," and "He said his wedding attire would include clothes by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren."
And I leave you with this photo from Berkeleyside of Milo in his hotel room, with an unmade bed and something piled on top of it in the background.
WTF is that in the background? A fort he built?— Bryan Garcia (@bgarcia935) September 24, 2017