Organizers Cancel 'Free Speech Week' at Berkeley
"Free Speech Week" at Berkeley has been canceled by organizers who complain of "roadblocks" put up by the school's administration.
But in a bizarre twist, it appears that the entire event was never meant to come off. It appears that the man behind Free Speech Week, Milo Yiannopoulos, was putting out news releases announcing the participation of speakers who now say they never intended to participate.
Berkeley Patriot, the conservative organization at Berkeley that was acting as host for the event, sent a letter to the UC Berkeley administration informing them of their decision.
In a Saturday letter to the school, an attorney for Berkeley Patriot, Marguerite Melo, wrote, “On their behalf, you are hereby notified the Berkeley Patriot is canceling all Free Speech Week activities it sponsored.” The letter accused administrators of putting up roadblocks and said the group was “contemplating initiating litigation against the responsible parties and the administration for violation of our clients’ civil rights.”
But the News discovered an email chain that suggests Milo never intended to go through with the event.
But in a separate email chain obtained by this news organization, Lucian Wintrich, one of the supposed speakers, told Mogulof the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote in an email around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” wrote a clearly surprised Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?” “Yes,” came Wintrich’s one-word response.
It appears that the host, Berkeley Patriot, may have been hoodwinked by Milo, who kept putting out news releases announcing which speakers were going to appear; it was later discovered that they had no intention of showing up.
A source familiar with planning for the event who insisted on anonymity said that supposed key speakers, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, had never intended to participate at all, and that Yiannopoulos was scrambling ahead of Sunday’s supposed start date to get speakers to Berkeley to participate.
Ann Coulter and James Damore also declined invitations to speak.
Lucian Wintrich, a writer for Gateway Pundit, a website that has published conspiracy theories on such topics as Hillary Clinton’s health, was on the university’s list of confirmed speakers released Wednesday. However, Wintrich also pulled out of the event, citing in a blog post the “the seemingly likely chance that something impedes the event.”
Wintrich said in an interview with The Times that he didn’t want college students to “waste their money” coming to the event.
“When it became clear to me this event was being mismanaged on all sides, I really didn’t want people who were flying out and booking hotels to see me to be disappointed,” he said.
Right-wing media personality Mike Cernovich initially was listed by organizers as speaking on Wednesday, but he pulled out this week.
Cernovich said he believed Yiannopoulos “sincerely” wanted to attend, but there was mounting confusion among the proposed speakers.
“After the lineup was announced, speakers began asking me for details,” he said in a text message. “This seemed odd as I wasn’t an organizer. To pull off an event like Free Speech Week would require a huge staff.”