The University of California, Berkeley announced the cancellation of Free Speech Week on campus, where organizer Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. Now, a Free Speech March has come together in its place the L.A. Times reports.
The four-day event, which was billed as "open to all political ideologies, with speakers representing conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals," was set feature discussion each day on topics including feminism, Islam, Silicon Valley, and higher education, according to NBC News.
"It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the University was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events," said Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof in an official statement.
They reportedly planned to spend nearly one million dollars on security after an incident earlier this year when the Yiannopoulos' appearance on campus sparked riots which resulted in an estimated $100,000 in damage.
The student group responsible for holding the event claims that the administrators at Berkeley threatened them with investigations into hate speech after Berkeley Patriot members filed a complaint with the Department of Justice. The Bay-area university maintains that the student-run publication missed a number of contract deadlines including not confirming the venues with the school.
On Saturday, Yiannopoulos held a news conference in which he blamed the university for the cancellation. "We will not be deterred," he said at the news conference. "We will proceed no matter what, in whatever format we can, to realize the promise of Free Speech Week and send a message that conservatives will not be bowed by pressure from academics, the media or anyone else." Throughout the conference, he reiterated the plan for a march on Sunday adding that he could not ensure anyone's safety, later promoting the March for Free Speech on his Instagram.
Yiannopoulos promised a donation of $10,000 to the university's publication the Berkeley Patriot saying, "It is my view that Berkeley needs a strong, conservative, free speech publication."
Berkeley has become a battleground for free speech this year following Yiannopoulos' controversial and damaging visit back in February. With many student groups expressing a full spectrum of political and ideological opinions, the overall atmosphere of the campus has grown progressively tenser.