By Isabella Ainsworth,
A Friday talk by Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli at UC Davis was canceled by the Davis College Republicans for safety reasons. The event, which was part of Yiannopoulos’ “Dangerous Faggot Tour” and sponsored by the UC Davis College Republicans, was supposed to be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Science Lecture Hall 123.
Yiannopoulos is a writer for Breitbart news, a publication for the alternative right, and has been banned from twitter.
A statement from UC Davis Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter said that protesters blocked access to the lecture hall, but there had been no property damage, contrary to Yiannopolos’s account on his facebook page that hammers were used to smash windows.
Senior Tess McDaniel did not have tickets to the event, which was sold out, but had been waiting in the line for people with no tickets since 5:30 p.m. to see if she could get in.
“The line just kept getting longer and longer. It was really just amazing to see the amount of people that were here,” McDaniel said.
A variety of protesters surrounded the lecture hall. Some were loud, chanting slogans, like “Milo has got to go!” and “No Justice, No Peace!” Others stood away from the lecture hall, past the grass on the other side of the bike path, holding signs telling different groups of people–disabled, minorities, immigrants–that they loved them. This group also offered free hot chocolate and cookies to passerbys.
Yet other protesters at the event protested the protest itself, holding signs saying that free speech, even hate speech, should be protected.
Nate Walker was one of those protesting Yiannopoulos. He disagrees with what Yiannopoulos has said.
“It makes me feel unsafe as a black person,” Walker said.
A freshman at UC Davis and an avid member of the black student union on campus, Walker was leaving his math class a couple of days ago when he saw a poster with the words “Alt-Right” on it.
“I was like, ‘what’s going on?’” Walker said. “So I looked at it, and I was like, ‘oh, it’s a protest against them, okay.’”
Walker got to the lecture hall at 6 p.m. for the protest. Walker wanted to be a part of the protest because he felt that, even though on the inside of the hall Yiannopoulos would be saying things that Walker did not agree with, he could combat Yiannopoulos’s rhethoric by protesting.
“Make a voice on the outside. That’s how you get revenge,” Walker said. “Just make a louder voice.”
At around seven as protesters yelled “Go Home!” to the people standing at the front of the line to get into the lecture hall, many of whom were donning Donald Trump Make America Great Again and the line members they yelled back, “I am Home!” a policeman revealed that the event had been cancelled.
“I’m really upset that the event was cancelled,” McDaniel said. “I think it would have been really interesting to see what someone with different opinions than me would have to say.”
Jensen Geist, Davis High class of 2016, found out that Yiannopoulos was speaking and decided to come. When he finally got to the lecture hall, though, the talk had already been cancelled.
“I think it’s sad,” Geist said. “That’s the whole idea of the freedom of speech, that everyone has the right to an opinion.”
Geist has seen Yiannopoulos once before, in Los Angeles. According to Geist, Yiannopoulos is not your run-of-the-mill conservative.
“He doesn’t care what other people think at all,” Geist said. “He’s open-minded. He also puts a new perspective on being a conservative, especially standing out as a gay man.”
Ryan Nishikawa, also Davis High class of 2016, did not know that Yiannopoulos was coming to speak until the day before. A current freshman at UC Davis, Nishikawa was interested in what Yiannopoulos had to say, so he came to the lecture hall.
How would Nishikawa describe the night?
“A bunch of people yelling a bunch of random things,” Nishikawa said.
The yelling did get better as the evening went on, however. As the protesters and those hoping to see Yiannopoulos filtered out of the area, some stayed–to try to talk to the other group. Protesters talked to Yiannopoulos supporters, and vice versa.
“I see a bunch of people from all over the place just having their own little discussions,” Nishikawa said. “They definitely don’t like each other, but they’re largely respectful.”
Not all the discourse was that constructive, however. As fewer and fewer people were to be found in front of the science lecture hall, some still held on, yelling and in some cases even accusing each other of being rapists.
For a second, though, there was a lull in the noise. A man who looked like he might be a UC Davis student took advantage of this silence.
“We’re all here for the same reason, right?” the man asked no one in particular. “For chemistry class?”