How a Speaking Tour Meant to Provoke Ended Up Provoking the President

February 02, 2017

The Breitbart editor and conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’s controversial campus tour officially ended this week with a canceled event at the University of California at Berkeley and an early-morning tweet from the president of the United States threatening to pull the university’s federal funding.

The tour racked up cancellations, protests, and even a shooting. Here’s a timeline documenting how Mr. Yiannopoulos’s tour went from provoking administrative hand-wringing to a tweet from President Trump.

September 12, 2016: Mr. Yiannopoulos’s tour returns for the fall with a visit to Texas Tech University. The Daily Toreador reports that 109 professors signed a letter opposing his visit.

September 20 through December 31: Several stops on the tour — including DePaul University, Florida Atlantic University, Yale University, and the University of Maryland — are canceled because of threats of violence, high security fees required by the colleges, and other reasons.

January 13, 2017: The University of California at Davis cancels a joint appearance by Mr. Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive charged with securities fraud. The Washington Post reports that heated protests led the campus police to tell the Davis College Republicans that “it was no longer feasible to continue with the event safely.” Mr. Yiannopoulos responds to the cancellation by joining members of the Republican student group in marching on the campus the next day.

January 20: A man is shot during a protest of Mr. Yiannopoulos's speech at the University of Washington. The Seattle Times reports that the violence escalated while Mr. Yiannopoulos took the stage, with protesters throwing bricks, fireworks, and paint at officers. The shooting victim is not injured fatally, and a suspect turns himself in but is not charged. According to the Times, the suspect says he believed the person he shot was a white supremacist and he was acting in self-defense. The victim's friends say the victim was not a white supremacist but had an "anti-swastika" tattoo. The Times also reports that, hours before the shooting, the suspect sent a Facebook message to Mr. Yiannopoulos asking for a signed "Make America Great Again" hat.

January 25 through January 31: Mr. Yiannopoulos appears at several more campuses, drawing protests and some arrests.

February 1 (all times local, in Pacific Standard Time):

4:30 p.m: Mr. Yiannopoulos is slated to speak at Berkeley. The campus police department’s Twitter account responds to a tweet asking about a rumor that attendees at the event have been encouraged to carry concealed weapons. The account answers that the police will employ “standard safety procedures used at all large campus events.”

6:11: CNN’s Anderson Cooper interrupts a panel discussion of foreign policy to go live to protests at Berkeley.

6:15: Berkeley administrators announce that the police have canceled the event. Shortly thereafter, the Berkeley police announce that Mr. Yiannopoulos has left the campus. He then takes to Facebook to announce that his show was canceled because of “violent left-wing protesters.” Later, on a Facebook Live video, Mr. Yiannopoulos addresses his fans from a hotel room, ironically referring to Berkeley as “the home of the free-speech movement” and saying that left-leaning campus groups are trying to suppress conservative views. “They simply will not allow any speaker on campus, even someone as silly and harmless and gay as me, to have their voice heard,” Mr. Yiannopoulos says. For the rest of the evening, Mr. Yiannopoulos shares multiple stories and anecdotes about the protests on his Facebook page. (He was permanently banned from Twitter.)

6:20: The campus police issue a “shelter in place” warning on the campus, asking anyone in the area to stay indoors.

6:25: First reports of fires at the protest.

6:30: Early reports of violence by protesters dressed in all black.

6:56: Mr. Yiannopoulos appears on Fox News via telephone.

7:05: Early reports that the police are using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

7:12: The campus police announce they are bringing in additional resources.

7:36: The Berkeley Anti-Fascist Action Twitter account retweets a comment by another Anti-Fascist Action account praising it because a “Nazi” got “knocked out” at the protests.

8:07: Video shows Bank of America ATMs' being smashed.

10:55: “All clear” issued by the campus police.

February 2 (all times in Eastern Standard Time):

5:41 a.m.: A political commentator, Todd Starnes, suggests on Fox & Friends First that President Trump should take away Berkeley’s federal funding.

6:13: President Trump suggests on his personal Twitter account that Berkeley could lose federal funding for not allowing free speech.