Milo Yiannopoulos will no longer hold Phoenix-area event this week
PHOENIX — Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial conservative speaker, will no longer hold a Phoenix-area event scheduled for Friday, it was announced on Thursday.
The announcement was first made in a Facebook post on Thursday, when Yiannopoulos said the Scottsdale Police Department had received a credible threat against his life and had “forbidden us from proceeding with this event.”
However, Scottsdale police Sgt. Ben Hoster told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the event had already been cancelled by the time officers had reached out to The Venue in downtown Scottsdale on Thursday.
“We called the manager of the business to check on the status of the event and we were told that the speaking event was cancelled due to security reasons,” Hoster said. “At that point, we concluded our inquiry into the event.”
Hoster also confirmed that the department had not received any credible death threats and that the situation was a miscommunication between Yiannopoulos’ people and The Venue.
Yiannopoulos told KTAR News 92.3 FM that officials with The Venue had made the alleged death threat up in order to breach its contract and avoid financial repercussions.
Yiannopoulos said The Venue insisted the threat was real and that is why it was included in his original Facebook post. He said the organizers fabricated those statements in order to cancel its contract.
“[The Venue] had taken the decision to cancel the event this morning without our knowledge or consent, in breach of contract,” Yiannopoulos said. “Then they lied and said the police had insisted they cancel, and when asked why they lied again and said the police had received credible threats.”
Officials with The Venue had not responded to KTAR News 92.3 FM’s request as of Thursday evening. Yiannopoulos said officials had refused to respond to him since making the initial death threat claims.
Yiannopoulos said he will be returning to the Phoenix-area to hold events in the future, but does not have much information on those events yet.
The Valley’s history with Yiannopoulos
Yiannopoulos was supposed to give two speeches in Phoenix in the fall but were canceled after the venue failed to provide enough security.
“This decision was difficult for us to make but ultimately the safety of both our speakers and guests are of the utmost importance to us,” the group behind the October event, United Liberty Coalition, wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post.
In a statement at the time, Yiannopoulos said the cancellation showed that it was time for leaders to step up and protect freedom of speech.
“Left-wing bullies continue to use the threat of violence — and, often, deploy real violence — to suppress conservative speakers,” he said. “In a constitutional republic, government should have a monopoly on the use of force in order to protect the rights of its citizens.”
Yiannopolous’ “Troll Academy” tour sparked multiple protests last year, most notably on the famously liberal University of California, Berkeley campus.
The former Breitbart editor’s first run-in on the campus happened last February, when more than 1,500 students and faculty members turned out to protest a speech that Yiannopoulos was scheduled to make.
The protests shortly turned violent, with several activists setting fires, damaging property, throwing fireworks and attacking other members of the crowd. Yiannopoulos’ speech was canceled 20 minutes into the event, but the protests continued for hours. One person was arrested and an estimated $100,000 worth of damage was caused.
In September, Yiannopoulos held a weeklong conservative free speech showcase called “free speech week” on the Berkeley campus. In response, the UC Berkeley students turned up to the speech in an attempt to condemn him.
Due to angry shouts from small groups of competing protesters, Yiannopoulos’ appearance lasted less than half an hour, with only a few dozen supporters turning out. Several people were arrested in the coming days in connection with the protest, but there was no damage reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.