Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos is escorted to the University of California, Berkeley campus where he is expected to speak to dozens of supporters on September 24, 2017. Although a student group cancelled plans for Free Speech Week, Yiannopoulos was able to speak on campus surrounded by a heavy police presence. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
FULLERTON (CNS) - Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has gotten educators and police bracing for his appearance at Cal State Fullerton today.
The former tech editor for Breibart.com, who has drawn criticism over his relations with white supremacist groups in the alt-right movement as well as comments about feminism and Islam, was due to speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the campus. He was invited to speak by the campus College Republicans student group.
``We invited Milo because he's obviously a very provocative speaker who sheds light and brings attention to various (conservative) issues,'' said Brooke Paz, an event coordinator for the group.
The organization feels it is overshadowed by progressive groups on campus and wanted someone who could make a big splash, Paz said.
``We feel left out of the campus conversation with all the liberal groups and liberal professors who have marginalized conservative students,'' Paz said.
Paz said she and others feel they are often ``talked down to'' by some professors. Some report having their grades reduced because of their political orientation, she said.
Buzzfeed reported recently that Yiannopoulos consulted with white supremacist leaders on an essay defining the alt-right movement as part of an effort to mainstream bigoted philosophies.
Paz said she was unfazed by that report, saying Buzzfeed has a penchant for ``outrageous claims'' and that it was more likely Yiannopoulos as an editor of Breitbart was doing what any journalist would do.
``I think that personally he was trying to get the perspective of different groups and that's within his journalistic wheelhouse,'' Paz said.
A nearby elementary school and three high schools will dismiss students early to avoid problems in case Yiannopoulos' appearance sparks unrest at Cal State Fullerton. The university has beefed up security and will close portions of the campus and various buildings.
Visitors must have a ticket and go through metal detectors to access the event.
``I think they're hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,'' Paz said. ``I'm fully confident in our university police department, the Fullerton police department and our mayor. They've been working very closely with us. We're encouraging any violent protesters to not show up.''
Paz said many students of varying political stripes have approached her and told her that while they don't agree with Yiannopoulos they support his free speech rights.
``I'm finding a lot of students don't really care,'' Paz said. ``They don't know who he is and are just excited for Halloween.''
Activist group Students for Quality Education has a ``Unity Block Party'' planned for the afternoon and will rally a half-hour before Yiannopoulos takes the stage at 6.
Yiannopoulos said he understood the fuss but discouraged any violence.
``I don't blame the poor misguided souls who rock up to protest a gay guy with the wrong opinions,'' Yiannopoulos said in an email to City News Service.
``That's assuming they've even read my stuff. Actually, I encourage protests because more speech is always better than less -- just leave the nunchucks and baseball bats at home, guys.''