UC Berkeley’s ‘Free Speech Week’ cancelled

The so-called “Free Speech Week” at the University of California at Berkeley has been called off by the Berkeley Patriot organization, university officials said this morning.

Representatives of the student organization this morning told university officials that all of the events scheduled for the following week have been canceled, Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman, said in a statement.

Phone calls and emails to various representatives of the student group requesting comment were not returned.

Mogulof said:

“It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

The spokesman said the university had been in the process of spending more than $1 million to make the proposed events safe.

The student organization made preliminary reservations for a number of venues, but missed three deadlines to complete contracts and confirm reservations, Mogulof said. The Berkeley Patriot group did have a confirmed reservation for Anna Head Hall, but canceled that reservation Tuesday, he said.

The spokesman added:

“Claims that this is somehow the outcome desired by the campus are without basis in fact.”

Mogulof said the university was prepared to do “whatever was necessary to support the First Amendment rights of the student organization.” The Berkeley Patriot student organization is the student group sponsoring the event. Right-wing media personality Milo Yiannopoulos was to appear at the event.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Yiannopoulos said that the event would still take place despite media reports that it had been canceled.

Chanel Korby, a spokeswoman for Milo Inc., a group started by Yiannopoulos, said in an email message Friday, “At present the event is set to continue no matter what and UC Berkeley has been paid $65,000 so far in security deposits.” However, this morning the university announced that the Berkeley Patriot organization had called the event off.

Attempts to contact representatives of Yiannopoulos requesting comment were unsuccessful.

Similar on-off announcements occurred with regard to a Patriot Prayer right-wing event that had been scheduled for San Francisco’s Crissy Field Aug. 26. Organizers abruptly cancelled the rally the day before it was to happen, instead scheduling an unpermitted event in Alamo Square Park. That event was also cancelled at the last minute.

Mogulof said the campus administration and the University as a whole “are deeply committed to freedom of speech. We want to send the strongest possible message that we will continue to work constructively with campus organizations to host their speakers on our campus.”