- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2017

Organizers of Milo Yiannopoulos’s return to the University of California Berkeley accused the school Monday of trying to thwart Free Speech Week with bureaucratic red tape and insisted the show will go on, despite a host of planning issues.

A week before the start of Free Speech Week, the four-day event remains mired in clashes over venues, schedules and security, which the school has attributed to Berkeley Patriot’s failure to meet deadlines, complete contracts and provide accurate information.

Organizers fired back Monday by accusing the famously liberal university of setting them up for failure by throwing up bureaucratic obstacles.

“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,” said Pranav Jandhyala, news editor for the Berkeley Patriot, the conservative publication sponsoring the event.

“What we’ve experienced throughout this entire four months has been bureaucratic stonewalling,” he said in a statement.

In a Monday video, Mr. Yiannopoulos said the administration has ignored multiple calls from student organizers, and that his company MILO Inc., had paid $65,000 to obtain all permits and permissions for venues.

“UC Berkeley has been racking its brains for months trying to work out how to cancel Free Speech Week. They do not want us on campus,” said the former Breitbart editor. “The administrators at UC Berkeley have tried everything to derail Free Speech Week, up to and including accusing the students of being inept. They’re not.”

Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof denied accusations of political bias, pointing out that the university paid $600,000 for additional security to ensure the safety of a speech on campus last week by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

The event went relatively smoothly despite drawing more than 1,000 protesters. Police made nine arrests for offenses that included carrying banned weapons and battery.

In a Monday update, Mr. Mogulof said organizers of Free Speech Week have already lost two indoor venues, Zellerbach and Wheeler auditoriums, by failing to meet deadlines, and that recent proposed changes to the program at Anna Head Hall cannot be accommodated by campus security.

The University of California Police Department needs at least 10 days notice in order to bring in the additional law enforcement help “necessary to protect public safety when potential criminal activity is anticipated,” he said.

“This is the exact reason why the event policy requires student organizations to fill out the Police Services Request form that describes the specifics of their events more than a month before the event,” Mr. Mogulof said. “This is the exact reason the campus has been urging Berkeley Patriot to complete those forms.”

Featured speakers for the Sept. 24-27 forum include Stephen Bannon, Ann Coulter, Pamela Geller and David Horowitz, who are expected to draw large left-wing protest crowds.

Several others originally listed as speakers have said publicly that they have no plans to attend, including American Enterprise Institute fellow Charles Murray, whose lecture in May at Middlebury College prompted a protest in which a faculty member injured was injured.

“The inclusion of my name in the list of speakers was done without my knowledge or permission,” Mr. Murray told the Chronicle for Higher Education. “I will add that I would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.”

Why not? “Because he is a despicable asshole,” Mr. Murray said on Friday.

Heather Mac Donald, the Manhattan Institute fellow billed earlier as a speaker on the Free Speech Week website, said Friday on Twitter that she had not been contacted about participating.

MILO spokeswoman Angela Trostle said that Mr. Murray “had been included on the list of confirmed speakers due to a clerical error and that organizers had apologized to him,” the Chronicle said.

Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ, who assumed office in April, has declared that this will be a “free-speech year” after the cancellation of several conservative speakers, including Mr. Yiannopoulos, whose Feb. 1 speech was scuttled after rioting that resulted in $100,000 in damage to the campus.

Mr. Yiannopoulos said Berkeley has been “trying to virtue signal its support for free speech by hosting establishment-friendly conservatives like Ben Shapiro,” who was hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation.

“But we represent the true frontier of free speech, and when it comes to genuine free expression UC Berkeley is terrified of leftist violence that the university has either quietly ignored or actively cultivated for years,” Mr. Yiannopoulos said. “Antifa thugs cannot be allowed to censor free expression, so we are going to Berkeley, and Free Speech Week is happening, whether they like it or not.”

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