- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2017

A speaking engagement featuring conservative Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was abruptly canceled over safety concerns Friday evening moments before the two were expected to take the stage at the University of California, Davis.

UC Davis College Republicans decided to drop the event around 30 minutes prior to its scheduled start time “after a large number of protesters blocked access to the venue, and it was determined that it was no longer feasible to continue with the event safely,” the campus said in a statement Friday.

“I am deeply disappointed with the events of this evening,” said Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “Our community is founded on principles of respect for all views, even those that we personally find repellent.”

The game-time decision to nix the event came despite both organizers and educators having pushed back earlier in the week against calls to cancel raised by opponents of either speaker, each controversial in their own right.

Mr. Yiannopoulos has been frequently rebuked for his criticism on topics ranging from Islam to feminism and Islam, and was permanently banned from Twitter last year in connection to a targeted campaign of harassment waged against “Ghostbusters” and “Saturday Night Live” actress Leslie Jones.

Mr. Shkreli, meanwhile, achieved notoriety in 2015 when his pharmaceutical company raised the price of a life-saving drug by roughly 5,000 percent, and was booted from Twitter as well last week for harassing a female reporter.

Dozens of UC Davis faculty, staff, students and alumni wrote campus administrators in November 2016 urging them to pull the plug after it was first announced that Mr. Yiannopoulos would speak at the school, citing in part “his espousal of racist, sexist, and islamophobic hate speech.” Mr. Shkreli’s participation in the event was only announced earlier this week, rekindling calls for the college to cancel in the days preceding Friday’s scheduled discussion.

UC Davis College Republicans ultimately heeded those calls amid Friday night’s protests upon consulting with the UC Davis Police Department and UC Davis Student Affairs officials, according to the school’s statement.

“The decision was made initially because the lives of the officers were threatened, the lives of the students were threatened as well as the property of the school,” the group’s executive director, Andrew Mendoza, told KCRA, a local NBC News affiliate.

Weighing in with respect to the cancelation, Mr. Shrekli told the station he thought it was “reasonable” the event was aborted when it was.

Opining on Facebook, Mr. Yiannopoulos claimed that his event was canceled due to “violence from left-wing protesters,” and cited “reports of hammers, smashed windows and barricades being torn.”

Neither broken windows nor any other property damage were actually reported as a result of the protest, UC Davisconfirmed to the Davis Vanguard newspaper.

Mr. Mendoza, the director of the college Republican group, said he hoped to reschedule the event for Saturday night.

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