VIDEO: Controversy brewing over free speech event at UC Berkeley


BERKELEY (KRON) — A controversy is brewing at UC Berkeley.

On one side, organizers with the upcoming Free Speech Week event accused the university of not playing fair and trying to block their attempts to hold a week-long symposium. Yet, the university is firing back, saying they have tried to work with the group.

This is really a war of words that is heating up on Monday, with both sides pointing the finger at each other, possibly putting Free Speech Week in jeopardy.

On one side of the coin is Milo Yiannopoulous.

“UC Berkeley has been racking its brain for months, trying to work out how to cancel Free Speech week,” Yiannopoulous said in the YouTube video. “They do not want us on campus.”

Yiannopoulous is the British political commentator, author, and alt-right activist, as well as financial contributor, for Free Speech Week. He released a YouTube video in response to a growing controversy on the upcoming event at UC Berkeley.

He, along with the student group Berkeley Patriots, say they have attempted to meet the universities demands and contract requirements for the upcoming event planned to kick off on Sunday.

And on the other side is Doug Mogulof, the spokesman of UC Berkeley, who says the university wants all groups to be able to speak.

“Why didn’t they sign the contract weeks ago? Why didn’t they meet any of the three deadlines? So, the university remains ready, willing, and able to accommodate Mr. Yiannopoulous,” Mogulof said.

Mogulof says the university has been clear from the beginning. They want Free Speech Week but are not granting the group, including Milo, any special accommodations.

Here’s what is the heart of the matter: a contract to hold speaking events at the university’s two large indoor centers, Zellerbach and Wheller Hall.

The university says the group missed key deadlines and did not pay the fees.

Milo, and the student group, says they had questions about getting a refund in case there is a cancellation for security reasons, such as what happened back in February when protesters turned violent causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the university and city.

For the university, there is no controversy. They don’t offer refunds to anyone.

“There were a number of clauses they asked for in the contract. Clauses that haven’t been granted to anyone,” Mogulof said. “We understand that they didn’t like that, but they had to decide. They’ve known that for weeks.”

Milo sees it differently.

“UC Berkeley’s conservative students feel totally betrayed by their university,” Yiannopoulous said in the YouTube video.

So, what happens next? The group has secured an outdoor venue, and the university is getting ready to gear up once again to take security measures to make sure that this event is safe for everyone.

A big question right now is who is coming to this free speech event. The university says a list has not been provided yet.

Yiannopolus has said he plans to come as well as other high-profile names like Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon.



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