The student group planning to hold a “Free Speech Week” at the University of California at Berkeley canceled the event, university officials said Saturday, the day before it was expected to begin.

The plans had been closely watched because a controversial speaker, writer Milo Yiannopoulos, had been shut down by violent protests in February and had vowed to come back. In the months since, the school faced continuing fights over free speech and hate speech, and the surrounding community had bloody clashes between extremists on the far left and the far right.

On Saturday afternoon, Yiannopoulos wrote in an email, “I’ve just been told that student group the Berkeley Patriot, under pressure from the administration, is withdrawing its sponsorship of Free Speech Week. The students may have pulled out of Free Speech Week but I and my speakers have not.”

He also made his intentions clear on social media. “We have been let down by the student organizers, but I will not back down,” he posted later. “We have reached a deal with the police.”

At attorney for students from Berkeley Patriot, the student group that invited Yiannopoulos, wrote in a letter to campus officials that the students had been “subjected to extraordinary pressure and resistance, if not outright hostility,” from university officials since announcing their intention to host the event, and were canceling plans.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the University was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.

“Claims that this is somehow the outcome desired by the campus are without basis in fact..”


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