BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — A UC Berkeley student group is pushing ahead with plans to host conservative speakers, despite having missed all the deadlines to secure venues for an event they’ve dubbed ‘Free Speech Week’.
Conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulus says UC Berkeley leaders can’t stop him. He posted two simple words on Facebook on Monday, “It’s war.”
The so-called Free Speech Week — which is a push by far-right groups to amplify far-right voices — is set to kick off next Sunday at Cal and continue through Wednesday.
But there are a lot of mixed messages on campus pertaining to what is Free Speech Week and who is coming.
In the meantime, some professors are already canceling classes for that week.
Milo Yiannopoulus took to social media Monday with a 10-minute explanation as to why UC Berkeley is making things so difficult for headliners to present speeches.
Yiannopoulus said, “Nobody riots when Ben Shapiro speaks, but they do when I show up, they will for Ann Coulter and I’m sure they will for Steve Bannon when he comes later this week. We didn’t get the assurances we were looking for but as an act of good faith, this morning, I wired UC Berkeley $65,000.”
But, according to the university, the group Berkeley Patriot didn’t file the necessary paperwork in time.
University spokesperson Dan Mogulof said, “They didn’t meet the deadline, they didn’t do what was needed, they had the contract for over five weeks and honestly we’re kind of bewildered – if this was so important, why didn’t they sign the contract five weeks ago?”
Bryce Kasamoto, with the Berkeley Patriot, said, “A deadline is a deadline, but I’m not going to pay for a ridiculous charge that somebody tries to impose on me without a just explanation.”
UC Berkeley says it offered other venues — free venues — to the Berkeley Patriots, but they insisted on having Zellerbach Hall, a venue that requires a contract, security deposit and law enforcement set up in advance.
The contract deadline was never met.
Yiannopoulus said, “The administrators at UC Berkeley have tried everything to derail Free Speech Week, up to and including, accusing students of being inept — they’re not.”
It seems everyone on campus has felt some effect with the upcoming free speech week and the confusion.
Some students say they have been asked to sign multiple petitions to cancel class, saying they may have have their midterms postponed.
The $65,000 that was wired will be refunded.
Zellerbach Hall, where Ben Shapiro spoke, will be off limits because they won’t have enough security in time.
So now the big question is: where will these speeches take place?