BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - Controversial Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos appeared Sunday afternoon at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza for 20 minutes and left on his own. University officials said the appearance will end up costing the university more than $800,000.
Protesters and supporters of Yiannopoulos gathered at Bancroft and Telegraph Streets starting at 10am and exchanged words, but law enforcement said there were only two arrests made.
Yiannopoulos told followers on Facebook Live that he planned to show up on campus as a private citizen after the Berkeley Patriot student group cancelled Free Speech Week that Yiannopoulos was promoting as a 4-day Conservative speaker event on UC Berkeley’s campus.
"Is he still going to speak? Is someone still going to be here for Sunday?” asked Genevieve Peters, who drove up from Los Angeles.
“That was our main thing, because we mainly came up for Sunday. Obviously we would have loved to hear Steve Bannon, but I've heard those people before, I've been to CPAC."
Peters, wearing an American flag-print dress and Make America Great Again hat, said she was with a group of people and they planned to enjoy Berkeley whether there were speaking events or not.
UC Berkeley’s chief of campus police said ten law enforcement agencies came to the campus Sunday to help with security. CHP and UC police controlled the entrance into Sproul Plaza, making entrants walk through a metal detector. Television news cameras were not permitted inside Sproul Plaza.
UC officials said they were relieved the security controlled the crowds of several hundred and there was no disruption of other events or classes on campus, however, they said they suspected Free Speech Week was nothing more than a publicity stunt and that organizers never had any intention of hosting Conservative speakers at UC Berkeley.
“It feels like the most expensive photo op in the university’s history,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof.
Walking through security, Berkeley Patriot member Ashton Whitty said Free Speech Week was real, but the university made it impossible for the group to meet deadlines.
"There are been plans for this for weeks and weeks and weeks,” said Whitty.
“There are about 3,000 BCR members on the mailing list, but only 20 come to the club meetings. That's shows you how afraid people are to come out as Republican on this campus."
However, several listed Free Speech Week speakers said they were not attending. Former Google employee James Damore said he was listed as a speaker, but no one ever contacted him about speaking and he would not attend. Former presidential advisor and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon never publicly said he was attending. He was listed as a keynote speaker, but was campaigning for Moore in Alabama.
"I have no comment on Bannon,” said Whitty.
After Yiannopoulos left Sproul Plaza, the groups started to leave the area.
"He, for the fans, was signing autographs and stuff. He spoke a little bit, but he didn't have a microphone,” said Chris Cella, who flew from Florida to attend Free Speech Week.
"He apologized for the nature of the event,” said RC Maxwell, who came from Los Angeles.
“It's not really his fault. A lot of things were outside of his control."
Later, both opposing sides marched together, shouting conflicting slogans, down the streets of Berkeley without incident.
UC Berkeley officials said it has been prepared to handle 4 days of the now-cancelled Free Speech Week, but doesn’t know what to expect this coming week. The university said it will discuss Sunday night security plans for the next few days and whether the university should revisit its policies on campus events.
"We need to ask ourselves 'Should a relatively small student group have the ability to schedule four straight days of events? Should there be a limit, a certain amount during a given period of time,” said Mogulof.