UC Berkeley officials say organizers of far-right festival have failed to complete reservations for two indoor venues
UC Berkeley officials said Saturday that organizers of a far-right speakers’ series scheduled for later this month have missed the deadline to reserve two of the largest indoor venues on campus for the event, but that they will continue to work with organizers on planning for the festival.
“The University cannot defend spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide security arrangements for events” based on the press releases of organizers, Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of the university’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, said in a statement.
Mogulof said the Berkeley Patriot student group that is working with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on the “Free Speech Week” festival had failed to meet the university’s requirements to reserve Wheeler Auditorium on Sept. 24 — the first day of the festival — and Zellerbach Auditorium on Sept. 27. He said organizers failed to submit the necessary payments to reserve the halls by 5 p.m. Friday.
Berkeley Patriot also failed to provide the university “with evidence that speakers are actually confirmed, such as e-mails, evidence of travel arrangements, or contracts,” Mogulof said. In both instances, the student organization missed three previous deadlines set by the university, he said.
“This failure to confirm, combined with the refusal to provide unqualified speaker lists and schedules has led the campus to question whether Berkeley Patriot actually intends to, and/or is able to, carry out the proposed events,” Mogulof said in his statement.
Yiannopoulos dismissed the university’s claims as “a total lie” and part of a misinformation campaign. He said organizers were in the middle of negotiating the terms of the $100,000 reservation fee when things broke down.
“They asked for the money after the cutoff for wire transfer on Friday,” he told a Times reporter on Saturday. “They will have it Monday. The event will proceed. Classic attempt to force cancellation with impossible demands at the last minute. It will not succeed.”
But Mogulof disputed Yiannopoulos’ version of events and said he was not part of the negotiations. He said the university was dealing solely with Berkeley Patriot.
“The fee payment requirement was in the contract first provided to the Berkeley Patriot five weeks ago,” he said Saturday, noting that the group was sent a reminder in writing Wednesday.
Berkeley Patriot representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
But Bryce Kasamoto, a 20-year-old senior and a spokesman for the group, said Wednesday that the group expected to meet the campus’ deadline, which he said was approaching “within the next week.”
“It is all going to be ready and finalized pretty soon,” he said. “This event is going to go forward and it’s going to be very exciting.”
“Free Speech Week” is slated to include Pamela Geller, Mike Cernovich, Erik Prince, Ann Coulter, Yiannopoulos and former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon. But the full list of speakers is not yet confirmed and some who have been listed said they do not plan to attend.
Three of the speakers listed by Milo Inc. — Charles Murray, Heather MacDonald and Michael Malice — have said they are not coming to Berkeley.
Murray and Malice confirmed through emails to The Times that they won’t be attending the series.
“I was never contacted by the organizers of this event,” Murray wrote in an email. “The inclusion of my name in the list of speakers was done without my knowledge or permission. I will add that I would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.”
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan Institute, where MacDonald is a fellow, said “neither we nor Heather know anything about the event.”
5:35 p.m. This article was updated with an additional comment from Murray.
This article was originally published at 4 p.m.
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