Protests surround upcoming Milo Yiannopoulos event

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The California Aggie, Jay Gelvezon/Courtesy

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Update 1/24/2017: This article has been updated to reflect new information obtained from the Daily Bruin and the Daily Nexus. 

A 34-year-old man was shot Friday night during a protest of Milo Yiannopoulos’ talk — part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, which will come to UC Berkeley on Feb. 1 — at the University of Washington.

The victim — who has been identified by Twin Cities General Defense Committee as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, an anti-racist and anti-fascist organization — was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery after being shot in the stomach and is currently in critical condition. The primary suspect surrendered himself to the police and was released after telling them that he had fired in self-defense and that the victim — whom he called a white supremacist — had assaulted him.

Additionally, last week, protesters chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here,” shut down Yiannopoulos’ talk at UC Davis about 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start, according to CNN.

UCPD Captain Alex Yao said UCPD was aware of the incidents and is taking them into account in its plans for security for Yiannopoulos’ event on campus.

“Safety and security is a high priority for UCPD,” Yao said in an email. “We are aware of the incidents that occurred at UC Davis and University of Washington and are taking them into consideration in our planning for this event.”

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, the exact details of UCPD security measures cannot be divulged publicly to ensure safety and security during the event.

UCPD initially charged Berkeley College Republicans an estimated $10,000 security fee to host the event, which was reduced to $6,500, according to BCR Internal Vice President Pieter Sittler. Sittler said his organization has obtained funding for the fee.

“Funders want to remain anonymous, I’ll leave it at that,” Sittler said in a Facebook message when asked how the funds were raised for the security of the event.

Sittler said in the Facebook message that BCR will spell out to the campus community its reasons for inviting Yiannopoulos for a talk through an op-ed piece that will hopefully be published before the event.

Yiannopoulos’ planned events at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara have also been cancelled, as reported by the Daily Bruin and Daily Nexus, respectively.

Yiannopoulos cancelled his event at UCLA because the Bruin Republicans, the campus group sponsoring the event, could not accommodate his requests, according to the Daily Bruin. UCLA students had created a Facebook event for a protest of the speaking engagement, which attracted 1,400 people who said they were either interested in or attending.

UC Santa Barbara College Republicans cancelled their event because they were having difficulty scheduling with Yiannopoulos’ handlers, according to the Daily Nexus.  

Judith Butler, one of the 12 campus professors who sent a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks requesting that he cancel the event, said in an email that legally there is a distinction between “constitutionally protected speech” and “harassment.” She added that campus administration should take into consideration Yiannopoulos’ past public appearances that have consistently risen to a level of targeting communities, which she considers harassment rather than an exercise of free speech.

“We are as a university bound to protect students, staff, and faculty, from behavior that creates a hostile climate,” Butler said in an email.  “That is why the kinds of conduct that (Milo) Yiannopoulos engages in are not permitted in the classroom, and would in fact be subject to disciplinary action, if they were.”

Parth Vohra covers student life. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @ParthVohra622.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that the victim of the shooting was confirmed to be a white supremacist. In fact, the shooter alleged this, though his allegations have not been verified.