A multi-day series of political speeches promoted by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous at UC Berkeley next week will occur mostly outdoors instead of within two rarefied campus halls as initially planned.
The campus administration said this weekend that organizers missed the deadline to reserve two large indoor venues on campus for the planned four-day event.
But organizers still have access to the “Savio Steps” at the center of Sproul Plaza as well as another adjoining plaza at the southern entrance to the Berkeley campus for eight of their nine planned events, a campus spokesman said in a statement.
Organizers have said Ann Coulter and former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon are still slated to attend even though they’re missing from “the final event schedule” the campus says it received from the student group sponsoring the event, a conservative publication called the Berkeley Patriot that has been working with Yiannopoulos to set up the speeches.
That means Coulter, Bannon, Yiannopoulos and others would have to speak in a plaza usually bustling with harried students, recruiters for campus clubs and Berkeley’s various street personalities.
The plaza is regularly the site of demonstrations and was the center of violent protests in February before a planned speech by Yiannopoulos was canceled.
The publication’s news editor, Pranav Jandhyala, said in a phone interview that despite the fact that Bannon and Coulter weren’t included on the list of scheduled speakers, they’re still confirmed to come.
“They think because we’ve lost the venue, that we’ve lost those speakers. They are coming. those speakers are still coming,” Jandhyala said. “They will speak on Sproul Plaza if we have to. I got confirmation from all of them regardless of the venue that they’re still coming.”
Yiannopoulos and conservative author David Horowitz are the only speakers who have confirmed to the campus that they are coming, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said.
Mogulof said in a statement that the student group will try to reschedule the speakers they had hoped would talk at Zellerbach Hall and Wheeler Auditorium, two of the larger spaces on campus, for another time.
But the organizers may have trouble finding a time for the likes of Bannon and Coulter to talk. The only time, university officials said, they could accommodate new speakers would be at the Tuesday night talk at Sproul Plaza from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Based on the information provided to date, [the University of California Police Department] has already initiated outreach to allied law enforcement agencies and UCPD will have the resources in place necessary to accommodate changes to the event program at that location, at that time,” Mogulof said in a statement.
He said university police need “at least 10 days to work with allied law enforcement agencies that would provide the additional personnel UCPD has determined to be necessary to protect public safety when potential criminal activity is anticipated.”
In a six-minute-and-41-second video posted Monday morning, Yiannopoulos decried what he called the Berkeley administration’s “coordinated bureaucratic mission to silence conservative voices at Berkeley.”
Yiannopoulos also expressed frustration that a contract clause, which would’ve allowed him to get a refund if the event was canceled at the last minute, was not included. Mogulof, Berkeley’s spokesman, said an inclusion of such a clause would be unprecedented for campus venues.
Last week, more than 200 instructors and faculty members called for a shutdown of classes and activities during the events in order to protect their students from potentially deadly violence.
The campus estimates it spent $600,000 on extra security and police officers to prepare for a speech last Thursday by conservative author Ben Shaprio. City and campus officials took heightened steps to prevent the sort of chaos that descended on campus when Yiannopoulos tried to speak in February.
The only indoor space organizers have reserved for the week is the university-owned Anna Head Hall for a Monday night talk featuring former Google employee James Damore and University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson.
But university police “cannot accommodate last-minute changes to the program for that event,” Mogulof said.
Three of the originally listed speakers have said they are not attending the event.
Police officers last week cut off access to Sproul Plaza, the site of Mario Savio’s famous 1964 address during the free speech movement and a common meeting ground for activists of all stripes, as a security precaution during Shapiro’s talk last week.