(CNSNews.com) - Jesse Arreguin, the mayor of Berkeley, Calif., is calling for the University of California to cancel the “Free Speech Week” that has been scheduled for next month by the Berkeley Patriot, which the San Francisco Chronicle describes as “a conservative campus group.”
"I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” the Chronicle quoted the mayor as saying.
The event, which will be held Sept. 24-27, will feature blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, and, according to the Chronicle, there “have been reports that Berkeley Patriot is also trying to lure ousted White House chief strategist Steven Bannon and right-wing commentator Ann Coulter to appear on campus during its Free Speech Week.”
“I’m very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it’s just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street,” Mayor Arreguin was quoted as saying in the Chronicle.
“I obviously believe in freedom of speech, but there is a line between freedom of speech and then posing a risk to public safety,” the mayor told the Chronicle. “That is where we have to really be very careful--that while protecting people’s free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses.”
A spokesman for the university, Dan Mogulof, told the paper that the school does not have the legal right to stop people from speaking to student groups based on their beliefs.
“[W]e have neither the legal right nor ability to interfere with or cancel (students groups’) invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers,” Mogulof told the paper.
“Where we do have discretion is around everything that has to do with the safety of our communities, and the well-being of those who may feel threatened or harmed by what some of these speakers may espouse,” he said.