Milo Yiannopoulos’ “Free Speech” rally at the University of California, Berkeley on Sunday culminated in the former senior Breitbart editor being escorted away by police after a 20-minute appearance.
The rally took place on the campus’ famed Sproul Plaza, known for being a hotbed of student protests during the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. Yiannopoulos appeared to take selfies with fans, sign copies of his book and led the crowd of about 150 people in a rendition of the national anthem.
Attendees had to pass through metal detectors to receive access to the plaza but hundreds of counter-protestors waited outside.
After around 20 minutes, the 32-year-old right-wing commentator was led away by a police escort. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the school spent $800,00 on security to keep him safe. During his February appearance on campus, which erupted into rioting, the school spent $600,00 on security.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle campus spokesman Dan Mogulof called the event “the most expensive photo-op in the university’s history.”
The event was meant to be a much larger, four-day spectacle named “Berkley Free Speech Week.” Yiannopoulos announced a line-up of conservative speakers including Ann Coulter and former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. However, the event fizzled out after the student group and Yiannopoulos failed to work out logistics. Some speakers, like Coulter, even announced they were “never” planning on attending.
In a Facebook Live on Saturday, Yiannopoulos says he takes responsibility for the poor organization of the rally.
“I understand there were some hiccups with speakers, which I take personal responsibility for,” Yiannopoulos admitted. “Although it was an error of my staff, it’s down to me.”
After the rally, Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook to complain that police would not remove protestors, who he claims muffled speeches, but promised to return again next year.
“We were denied any amplified sound whatsoever and police refused to remove screeching protesters who made it impossible to deliver any speeches,” Yiannopoulos writes. “But you know what? I’d have come out today if a SINGLE person wanted to hear me and got into the plaza. And I’ll keep coming. Thanks to everyone who stood out in the sun. God bless everyone. Despite the machinations of every component of the Berkeley and UC Berkeley administration, we showed up. We will keep showing up. See you back in Berkeley next year!