After a raising tensions in its lead-up, a “Free Speech Week” scheduled by conservative University of California, Berkeley, students fell apart over the weekend. Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right speaker slated for an event during that week, showed up Sunday anyway to deliver a talk to right-wing supporters, who were outnumbered by counterprotesters.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the event, which lasted 20 minutes, had tight security, and only 100 people were let into the plaza where it was held.
While “Free Speech Week” started to fall apart last week, an email chain obtained by the Bay Area News Group suggests that it was never set up to succeed in the first place. In an email, Lucian Wintrich, one of the supposed speakers and a writer for The Gateway Pundit, told UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof Saturday morning that the event had been set up for the purpose of gaining attention.
“It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.
“Wait, whoa, hold on a second,” Mogulof responded. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by Milo Inc.? Was it a setup from the get-go?”
“Yes,” Wintrich wrote.
Critics of Yiannopoulos and the conservative organizers, a group called the Berkeley Patriot, have said that the event was never about free speech.
“News of the voluntary cancellation by organizers of most of the events associated with what was dubbed ‘Free Speech Week’ at the University of California at Berkeley represents no setback for free speech,” Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, a literary and free speech organization, said in a statement. “From the start, the groups behind this planned conclave made clear their intent to showcase only a particular set of views, aimed to provoke outrage and bait those who might call for their expression to be shut down.”