Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is expected to speak alongside conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
Will Steve Bannon really show up to speak later this month at UC Berkeley?
In what’s becoming a new tradition at the famously liberal school, a conservative student group on Tuesday insisted it’s bringing the ousted White House chief strategist to campus for a week of events including conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
But UC Berkeley officials said the group still hasn’t satisfied a number or requirements to host the event, setting off another showdown over whether Berkeley will roll out the welcome mat for controversial speakers. So far, the university says, the group hasn’t paid rental fees for venues or signed contracts, and none of the possible speakers have discussed security arrangements with the school.
That didn’t stop Bryce Kasamoto, a senior and spokesman for the student group Berkeley Patriot, from confirming Bannon’s appearance on Tuesday in a text message to this news organization: “I can confirm that Steve Bannon will be speaking at Free Speech Week,” he wrote.
Yiannopoulos also posted a video entitled “Bannon Infiltrates Berkeley” on his website Tuesday.
The group said it will host the controversial speakers during what it is billing “Free Speech Week” beginning Sept. 24. The long-rumored appearances by Yiannopoulos and Bannon are sure to heighten tensions at the campus known as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement as UC officials struggle to balance public safety with free speech rights.
Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter has also accepted an invitation to participate, Kasamoto said, but he declined to confirm her appearance because the group is still working out “logistics and details.”
Coulter was slated to speak at the school in April at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans, but her appearance was canceled after the school said it could not guarantee her safety and security on the date the group wanted. The controversy sparked an uproar from conservatives, with conservative student groups ultimately filing a lawsuit against the university for violating their right to free speech.
In a statement Tuesday, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof indicated that if the student group fails to meet looming deadlines, the university may again halt the speeches because of security concerns.
“The University cannot yet confirm exactly when or if they will be here, nor can it confirm a list of speakers,” he said. “We have repeatedly asked representatives of the Berkeley Patriot to confirm that contracts have been completed between the student organization and each of these speakers; to date they have not.”
“While campus officials and venue managers are working diligently to assist the Berkeley Patriot group with its proposed events, the group’s failure to meet important deadlines is making it increasingly difficult to ensure a safe and secure program,” he continued.
The latest development comes as UC Berkeley is gearing up to host the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro this Thursday, an event the school will use as a test run for its security plan ahead of the “Free Speech Week.”
In February, a Yiannopoulos speech was canceled amid security concerns when demonstrations turned violent, prompting President Trump to tweet his outrage.
Yiannopoulos return to campus, along with Bannon and possibly Coulter, is sure to draw protests and national media attention as the school looks to bat back accusations it has limited conservative free speech in recent months.
UC officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about what the events will cost or how officials will handle security. But Shapiro’s talk, a much smaller-scale operation, is expected to cost at least six figures alone, Mogulof has said.
Source: MercuryNews. We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.