Released emails show Milo Yiannopoulos threatened campus administrators, accused them of ‘pot-stirring’ before ‘Free Speech Week’

Lianne Frick/File
Controversial conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos spoke to a crowd of about 50 people on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Sunday before hurriedly leaving campus on what would have been the first day of the canceled “Free Speech Week.”

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When conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos decided he would come back to UC Berkeley, he made it clear that “come hell or high water,” nothing was going to stand in his way.

In the weeks leading up to “Free Speech Week” on campus, Yiannopoulos expressed contempt toward UC Berkeley administrators for speaking to the press.

Emails between Yiannopoulos and campus administrators, obtained by The Daily Californian through a public records request, found that tensions between Yiannopoulos and campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof arose when the conservative speaker found out Mogulof had released the list of speakers to the media.

Correspondences related to event planning reveal that on Aug. 18, 2017, Chancellor Carol Christ introduced Mogulof to Mike Wright, then-editor in chief-Berkeley Patriot, who would be organizing the Yiannopoulos visit.

“I have no interest whatsoever in trying to tell you what your messages and positions should be, but I do see a shared interest in helping you anticipate what’s headed your/our way,” Mogulof said in the email to Wright. “In short, I am at your service.”

Yiannopoulos coordinated Free Speech Week with the Berkeley Patriot, a campus publication that ultimately canceled the entire week’s worth of events. Despite the student group withdrawing its support of Free Speech Week, Yiannopoulos spoke for about 20 minutes to a crowd of about 50 on Sproul Plaza on Sept. 24. 

During the course of one day, Aug. 24, Yiannopoulos sent Mogulof three emails, each longer than the one before. The series of emails proceeded as follows.

At 11:38 a.m., Yiannopoulos began with a rhetorical question for Mogulof, alleging that leaks to the media would ultimately undermine Free Speech Week.

“What would happen to a university official who leaked information to the press about a high-profile speaking event, knowing his actions would likely lead to more violence and destruction of property than would otherwise have occurred, and perhaps even result in serious physical injuries or — God forbid — even loss of life?” Yiannopoulos asked in the email.

Yiannopoulos followed this up in another email, sent at 1:56 p.m., when he accused Mogulof of “pot-stirring.” He asked that Mogulof stop answering journalists’ questions about a list of planned event speakers and refer further media inquiries to Yiannopoulos or the Berkeley Patriot.

Six hours later, he sent his third email — Yiannopoulos told Mogulof that providing the media with a list of speakers was “reckless in the extreme,” adding that including Steve Bannon’s name “served no purposes except to rile up violent far-left groups.”  

Yiannopoulos stated that Mogulof’s “unconscionable” communication with media had provided antifa and other violent groups with time to “plan disturbances” that they would not have had otherwise.

“Let me be understood clearly: this four-day event will proceed,” Yiannopoulos said in the email. “We will liaise with all the appropriate federal authorities and law enforcement to ensure that this is so.”

In response to Yiannopoulos’ concerns, Mogulof stated in an email the next day that the campus had corrected the information released to reporters upon learning that not all the speakers were confirmed.

“We don’t perceive that discussing individual speakers created any additional security risk after your public announcement of your planned event, your promise to include ‘every speaker banned [sic] from Berkeley in the last year’ and your earlier public statement that you would bring ‘an army’ to Berkeley,” Mogulof said in the email addressed to Yiannopoulos.

Exactly one month after this exchange, Berkeley Patriot canceled the event — yet, “come hell or high water,” Yiannopoulos came to campus nonetheless.

Contact Malini Ramaiyer and Ani Vahradyan at [email protected].