‘The most expensive photo op in the university’s history.’
That is how UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof jokingly described Sunday’s botched free-speech rally organized by controversial right-wing activist Milo Yiannopolous, which lasted just 20 minutes at came with a jaw-dropping price tag of $800,000 for the publicly funded university.
The event was supposed to be a week-long free speech forum, billed as the ‘Coachella of Conservatism,’ but it was scrapped on Saturday, on the eve of its kick-off. Yiannoupulos decided to show up on campus the next day anyway, and he was greeted by small groups of competing protesters.
Sticker shock: Right wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos is escorted by a sea of police officers at a free speech rally Sunday that lasted 20 minutes at cost UC Berkeley $800,000
Heavy police presence: An ‘unprecedented’ number of officers from 10 jurisdictions were brought it on Sunday to provide security at the controversial event
Police officers move in to detain a demonstrator carrying a large backpack and a shield in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park after an appearance by Yiannopoulos
Armed police officers stand by a barricade near Sproul Plaza after an appearance by Yiannopoulos
Counter-protesters hold up signs while waiting for Yiannopoulos to arrive
People hold a Pepe the Frog flag after an appearance by conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California in Berkeley
Clad in a Stars-and-Stripes hoodie, a denim jacket and sporting a pair of large sunglasses, Yiannouplous blew kisses, posed for selfies with his supporters and briefly addressed a small crowd of rally attendees while a slightly larger crowd protesting him was kept separate by a large number of uniformed police.
Yiannouplous spoke without amplification for a few moments on the steps of Sproul Hall. Then he led a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before being whisked away in a Chevy suburban. The whole appearance lasted about 20 minutes.
Campus police Chief Margo Bennett estimated that the university spent roughly $800,000 on security, which consisted of an ‘unprecedented’ number of officers from 10 different jurisdictions.
Berkeley freshman Alexandria Storm bemoaned the money frittered away to fund a huge police presence for what had amounted to a blink-and-you-missed-it event.
‘This is a waste of resources, a waste of student dollars to militarize the police,’ she said.
But Dan Mogulog, the UC Berkeley spokesman, defended the tactical strategy of deploying so many officers, saying they had to be prepared for the unexpected.
According to police, 11 people were arrested during the event, most of them for carrying banned weapons, as San Francisco Chronicle reported.
UC Berkeley recently shelled out $600,000 for security when conservative Ben Shapiro spoke.
Another $200,000 was spent in February for Yiannouplous’ previous appearance on campus, followed by an additional $600,000 UC Berkeley paid for security at right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter’s nixed speaking engagement in April, reported LA Times.
Milo Yiannopoulos (C) walks with police and a security detail through Berkeley’s campus
Milo took a photo showing the protesters who were being held back by police in riot gear
A pro-Trump protester holds during sign during a free speech rally at Berkeley on Saturday
A protester wears a mask of President Donald Trump shortly after Milo’s speech
Yiannopolous’ official event was cancelled Saturday by the Berkeley Patriot organizers on Saturday, leaving the polarizing speaker ‘blindsided,’ in his own words. He wrote on Instagram: ‘I did what I said I would do. I showed up. Sorry to the hundreds of people the police refused to let in.’
Yiannopolous did not apply to use an amplification device, so he spoke to the crowd sans microphone.
Jake Wall, a college student from Los Angeles in town to visit his girlfriend, described Yiannopolous’ showing as a ‘meet and greet.’ He said Yiannapoulos couldn’t make any points without a microphone and promised his admirers he’d return to deliver a proper address.
‘When you can’t speak through a mic, how effective was that?’ Wall asked. University officials said a request for amplification, required under school rules, was never made.
According to the Los Angeles Times, security was only letting 100 people or so in at a time and they had to go through metal detectors to enter the plaza, which was the center of activity on campus during the 1960s Free Speech Movement.
Kat McLain, 26, said she considers herself a liberal but decided to come out to support conservatives’ right to be heard. ‘There’s no way to come to a peaceful resolution until we can stop and talk to each other,’ she said.
A protester and a counter protester had a debate outside of the unofficial Milo Yiannopoulos rally
Demonstrators protest the appearance of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos rally. His appearance lasted approximately 20 minutes
Milo Yiannopoulos holds protest signs while speaking at the University of California in Berkeley
Conservative demonstrator Ben Bergquam faces off with counterprotesters who came to show defiance of conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos
Hundreds of conservative protesters rallied just after Milo spoke about free speech at the notoriously liberal college campus
Counter-protesters hold up sign while waiting for Milo’s arrival on Berkeley’s campus. Last time he was on the campus things turned violent as protesters and counter-protesters clashed
In February, violent protesters blocked the former Breitbart editor from making a speech at the university.
He lost his $250,000 book deal later that month after video was leaked that showed the alt-right poster boy appearing to defend pedophilia.
The book deal received backlash since the announcement in January, with many on social media threatening to boycott the publisher.
Yiannopoulos’s lewd comments saying relationships in which ‘older men help those young boys to discover who they are’ seemed to have pushed the company to back out.