The “Free Speech Week” event set to take place at Berkeley starting Sunday has been canceled according to organizers and invited speaker Ann Coulter. However, as of Friday afternoon, Milo Yiannopoulos was still insisting the event was on. First, here’s the cancellation report published early Friday by KQED:
Organizers of the controversial “Free Speech Week” on the UC Berkeley campus tell KQED that the event has been canceled.
Reports say that conservative author Milo Yiannopoulos will hold a press conference on Saturday publicly canceling the four-day event, which was scheduled to start Sunday and was set to feature a long list of right-wing speakers, including former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
A representative for Yiannopoulos, Zachary LeCompte-Goble, told KQED he “couldn’t confirm” the event would continue.
“It’ll be explained in the press conference tomorrow,” he said.
Mediaite reported Friday morning that invited speaker Lucian Wintrich said he learned this week the event would not happen:
Lucian Wintrich — Washington D.C. correspondent for far-right website Gateway Pundit, who had been involved in the planning of the highly publicized event but dropped out earlier this week — confirmed its cancellation in a video posted on Twitter late Thursday night.
“When I was first invited to Free Speech Week I saw it as an incredible opportunity,” Wintrich told Mediaite in a Thursday night phone call. “But then 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.”
Also Friday morning, a reporter said the organizer of the event had told him the group sponsoring the event had filed a complaint with the Department of Justice:
Finally, Friday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that Ann Coulter, one of the main invited speakers, said she believed the event had been canceled. That would seem to settle it, but as you’ll see, Yiannopoulos told the Post by email the event was definitely still on.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said Friday she assumes the “Free Speech Week” at the University of California at Berkeley has been canceled, because she never got a contract from her agent. She said by email she was told that Berkeley administrators were dead-set on blocking the event “and pulled all the usual tricks.”…
Coulter said UC-Berkeley administrators “have made perfectly clear that they think leftist ideas are so fragile and indefensible, that they can allow NO OTHER VIEWPOINTS to be heard on campus. I wasn’t especially interested in giving them a second chance to redeem their reputation, but having been given the chance, they failed.”
But Milo Yiannopoulos, the firebrand writer who has been promising to return to campus since he was invited by the student group, said by email that “Free Speech Week” was happening, starting with a rally Sunday. “FSW IS PROCEEDING FOR THE 4 DAYS NO MATTER WHAT,” he wrote.
If you’re a bit confused, you’re not alone. Clearly, something is going to happen but if Coulter and other speakers are out (Bannon too?) the event is not quite what was originally advertised. I guess we’ll find out today whether the event is actually canceled as organizers told KQED or still going on as Yiannopoulos told the Post.
Update: From the NY Times:
A student group at the University of California, Berkeley, that was organizing a series of speeches by right-wing figures canceled the planned four-day event on Saturday but one of its featured speakers, the conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, said he would show up anyway…
A letter from Marguerite Melo, a lawyer representing the [Berkeley Patriot] group, said it was forced to cancel Free Speech Week because the university resisted the event by failing to communicate, making bureaucratic demands and endangering participants by refusing to rent out secure venues.
So it is canceled but Milo is speaking anyway.