My View: Alternative Explanation on Milo Taking Shape


From the start the narrative emerging from the cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos event was a little too convenient – with the Breitbart columnist able to claim that the university pressured the Davis College Republicans into shutting down the event amid safety concerns.

“My event at UC Davis tonight has been cancelled after violence from left-wing protesters,” read a post on Yiannopoulos’ Facebook page. “There are reports of hammers, smashed windows and barricades being torn away. The campus police can’t guarantee anyone’s safety so I’m not being allowed anywhere near the building. Stay safe, everyone.”

The university denied that report from the start – issuing a statement that “there were no broken windows or other property damage during the protest. Earlier in the evening, one person was arrested inside the venue. No further arrests were made.”

The narrative then changed the next day at the protest on the quad.  Milo called the university administration “liars” in describing what happened and the events that led to the cancellation.  As he told the crowd and after that clarified to the Vanguard, it is true that the College Republicans had cancelled the speech, but that was because “they were told by police that they would be responsible for property damage.”

He told the Vanguard he was hoping with the march: “I want the university to admit that they intimidated those students into cancelling the event in violation of their First Amendment responsibilities.”

My view is that the Davis College Republicans, instead of being forced to shut down the event due to concerns about liability, chose to shut it down in order to be able to claim victim status.

The Vanguard still has pending records requests on communications between the university and students.

What we have obtained shows that the College Republicans had a $2 million general liability insurance policy for the event, which likely would have covered them in the event of property damage from protesters – by the way, not a clearly foreseeable occurrence, therefore unlikely that the university could have held the student group to be liable as claimed by Milo.

The Vanguard was told as well that the university has its own insurance that would have covered a lot of the damage.

So the idea that the university would threaten the students as implied, but discounted by university spokespeople in conversations with the Vanguard, seems unlikely.

Actions speak louder than words.  We need to consider what happened after the cancellation to have an indication of motivation.

As we now know, the College Republicans took out a standard $2 million general liability insurance policy for the January 13 event.

But there was no insurance and no police presence the next day.  As it turns out, the protesters largely (there were a few there) didn’t show up on the 14th, but there is no way that either Milo or the College Republicans knew or could have known this in advance.

In short, if they really feared liability – the far more risky path was to go out the next day with no insurance, and no police or Aggie Host presence.

So, they get shut down due to safety concerns, but yet take the more risky path the next day without insurance, Aggie Hosts or police?

That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense if their chief concern on Friday night was liability, or even safety.

There are a lot of questions I would want to ask about the security for Friday night, as well.  For instance, why wouldn’t the police and Aggie Hosts rope off a path to the entrance of the facility so that the protesters couldn’t block it?

But that is probably not the College Republicans’ call.  What we do know is that Milo gave two accounts that were somewhat in contradiction with each other – one on Friday night where he said, “They keep saying that the College Republicans were the ones to shut down the event last night. Not true. My staff were in meetings with the campus police and university administrators last night and were told by them that the event could not proceed. “

Then the next day he acknowledged that the College Republicans did cancel it, but only after been threatened to be held liable for damage by the university.  But the insurance policy means that the university wouldn’t have made that call.  Moreover, the College Republicans would have a reasonable case that the property damage was not of their doing.

All of this points to the idea that the College Republicans and Milo simply used the protests as an excuse to further their claim that the university was cowering to the activist crowd.

It also allowed them to play victim.  When the Islamic incident occurred, they were quick to denounce it, while claiming victim status.  In a statement, they called themselves “fellow victims of violence and intolerance…  Our right to free speech was infringed when protesters became violent enough to force the UC Davis administration to stop our event.”

Notice they not only claimed common cause with the Islamic Center as “victims,” but they again perpetuated the unfounded statement of “violence” and again claimed that the UC Davis administration stopped their event.

It is certainly a convenient explanation – one that advances both theirs and Milo’s world view, but there are some holes forming in it that should call us to question that explanation.

We may never know for sure.  But we are continuing to examine it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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32 thoughts on “My View: Alternative Explanation on Milo Taking Shape”

  1. Keith O

    The protesters actions that night caused the event to shut down.  They threw barricades, denied access, shoved , spit on and sprayed people with a smelly substance who were there to see Milo.  If they had shown up and peacefully protested the event wouldn’t gone on. You and others can try and deflect that fact because you don’t like that the left is being accused of bullying tactics and shutting down free speech.  It’s happening on campuses all over the country.


  2. Keith O

    they again perpetuated the unfounded statement of “violence”

    I think anyone with an unbiased eye would say that many of the protesters were acting violent that night.


        1. David Greenwald Post author

          If it were accurate. But it still doesn’t explain why they would come out the next day without insurance, Aggie Hosts or a police presence if they felt that safety or liability were the overriding concern

        2. Keith O

          Does any group need insurance when they meet on the grounds for a small get together and march.  Do BLM and other activist groups that often have rallies and marches on the campus grounds obtain insurance and ask for police presence for their activities?


          1. David Greenwald Post author

            They don’t need insurance, but you’re missing the point by going this route. They were protected financially on Friday but not Saturday.

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            Correction: I’m told every planned event on campus needs insurance at $2 million. So they were taking an even bigger risk on Saturday than I initially thought.

        3. Keith O

          So in all of your investigating have you found if the other groups that have marches and protests on the campus grounds have bought insurance?

          Were the other two speaking events that were sponsored on campus the same night as Milo’s event insured?

          “So they were taking an even bigger risk on Saturday than I initially thought.”

          Do you know if the College Republicans even knew they needed insurance to meet on the grounds?
          Obviously they knew they needed it for the event in the building on Friday night.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I didn’t look but they would have had to be. When we rent a facility, whether it was at UC Davis or the city, or next week for the Burris event, we get an insurance certificate to show we have liability insurance.

        4. David Greenwald

          I’m not saying it is.  But that’s not really my point either.  My point is that they assumed a lot more risk on Saturday which if they truly feared liability on Friday, doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  3. Mike Hart

    The idiots in the crowd were used… the promoted MY and Breitbart.  This was entirely predictable and they were warned for months that the protests etc. were exactly what he wanted.  In typical fashion, they lunged for the bait and made Davis look stupid and repressive yet again and promoted MY.  If the “Social Justice Warriors” (translation: violent idiots) could have just stayed home no one would have cared about MY and he would have had to figure out what he was going to say.  I doubt he even brought a speech with him as he was counting on these folks creating free news for him.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      There’s a lot of truth to that although I would avoid the invectives. However, as I have stated in the past, you’re missing a key factor here – Milo was something tangible and local that they could fight and after November 8, they wanted a fight.

  4. Tia Will

    they wanted a fight.”

    And therein lies a major and very sad truth. What they wanted is a fight. Not freedom of speech, not freedom to assemble, not an exchange of ideas ( which by the way was not what the College Republicans wanted either ), what they wanted was a fight. What MY wanted was a fight, not because he cares about the fight, but because he can use it for self promotional purposes. These types of strategies have long preceded the major manipulation pulled off by the current occupant of the White House, but they have not been quite so masterfully employed within my memory.

    We have seen the winning candidate incite crowds by calling on them to “rough people up” by extolling a time when people would have been “taken out on stretchers” by calls to “lock her up” and “drain the swamp”, both now abandoned since they were only campaign tools. The current occupant of the White House has successfully ridden a tide of fear, hatred, and yes, lies all the way to the presidency. Do we expect better behavior from others on either side of the political spectrum than is being demonstrated by our putative “leader” ?

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t know Tia.  Seems like we see the following: Milo protests, Women’s March, now Islamic Rally – all of these are responses to the political climate.  Different tactics, but all ways of fighting back.  We all have our favored methods.

  5. Tia Will


  6. I agree with your comment as written. However, I think it is a shame and counter productive that we seem to frequently frame working towards differing goals and priorities as “fighting” as witnessed even in your last sentence instead of collaborating to obtain the best possible outcome for all.
        1. Howard P

          Let’s focus on your ‘war’ analogy a bit… in a war, besides the direct casualties, there are prisoners (who may be tortured to either get info, or just for fun), ‘collateral damages’, particularly for civilians (read, ‘non-partisans), etc.

          Do you see yourself as a war-time correspondent, or as a participant?  Traditionally, war correspondents actually favor one side, over the other, when deciding what or how to report the ‘action’…

        2. David Greenwald

          I would say correspondent.  I went into the middle of the Milo fray to report on the Saturday protest and I was there yesterday as areporter not a participant.

  7. Tia Will


    If it’s a war, how many casualties should we expect? “

    I also do not know the answer to your question, but I can give you a place to start counting. I ,of course, am going to start the body count in my own field since it is what I am most familiar with.

    Pregnancy, even in the United States, is a health risk to the mother. It is obviously true that you cannot die from a pregnancy related cause if you are not pregnant. Therefore prevention of pregnancies that are not desired is the most effective way to prevent not only abortion, but maternal pregnancy related deaths. If we limit the accessibility to contraception whether that is either through repeal of Obamacare, or through defunding of Planned Parenthood we are putting women at real increased risk of dying. So here is the evidence and my projection of what could occur under the new administration.


    In 2014, the last year from which I could find complete data from the CDC, there were 3.98 million live births in the United States. The known and consistent rate of unintended pregnancies in the US is about 40%. The known maternal death rate in 2013 was 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births ( including maternal death at any time during the pregnancy and up to one month postpartum from and pregnancy related condition).

    Having consulted with my statistician since I am personally incapable of accurately assessing the numbers, this means that there are potentially as many as 277 directly pregnancy related deaths in mothers who had no intention to become pregnant / year. This was during the time of the ACA. Now let’s consider how much that number might increase if we restrict access to effective contraception by defunding both the ACA, a guarantor of a women’s right to contraceptive care and Planned Parenthood, a major source of contraceptive care.  I predict these actions will result not only in an increase in abortions, but also in an increase in maternal deaths. Is that really our goal ?

    1. Howard P

      Well, if war is indeed waged, instead of diplomacy, no thoughtful discussion/engagement, will not the same outcomes (or worse) be likely as positions harden? Where everyone is on a ‘war-footing’?

  8. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    It also allowed them to play victim.  When the Islamic incident occurred, they were quick to denounce it, while claiming victim status.  In a statement, they called themselves “fellow victims of violence and intolerance…  Our right to free speech was infringed when protesters became violent enough to force the UC Davis administration to stop our event.”
    Notice they not only claimed common cause with the Islamic Center as “victims,” but they again perpetuated the unfounded statement of “violence” and again claimed that the UC Davis administration stopped their event.

     This article is the  Davis Van Guard’s spin . Crank them up David . UC Davis College Republicans deserves for inviting this clown Milo who advertised himself as a “Dangerous Fagott ”

  9. Keith O

    The fascist college leftists reared their ugly heads again and shut down free speech at Bezerkely tonight.  I’m sure this too will be spun as being Milo’s fault.

    As “Milo had got to go” chants broke out, they struck: in small groups, at first — knocking down the fences, cutting through to zip ties. Then, they came in droves, as the dozens of university police officers quickly retreated to an inner ring of fencing.
    That, too, was breached, as protesters ran toward the student center, where Yiannopoulos was, waiting for the event to begin. Police, donning riot gear, headed all the way inside.
    Seizing the opportunity, the masks men and women then breached the inner ring of fencing, picking up pieces of it and hurling them into the glass of the building itself.
    Glass shattered, but no one went inside, where police formed a riot formation.
    As protesters yelled obscenities at police, others toppled a generator and light pole police had set up, spray painting “Milo” with an x through it. Later on, they lit it on fire, gas spilling with abandon as the growing flames licked a nearby tree on the side of the building.
    From their backpacks, they hurled dozens of fireworks — some screaming past others in the crowd — as Berkeley’s usually peaceful protesters vented their frustration.

    1. Howard P

      Yes… the home of the free speech movement… just heard about it from relatives in the Bay Area… stay tuned… it looks like the agent-provocateur has won again, using the “useful idiots” to make his twisted point… this time, there is definitely real damage and violent acts…

  10. Keith O

    As the gathered crowd got more agitated, masked “black bloc” activists began hurling projectiles including bricks, lit fireworks and rocks at the building and police.
    Some used police barriers as battering rams to attack the doors of the venue, breaching at least one of the doors and entering the venue on the first floor.
    In addition to fireworks being thrown up onto the second-floor balcony, fires were lit outside the venue, including one that engulfed a gas-powered portable floodlight.
    The area on Upper Sproul Plaza grew thick with smoke, and later tear gas, as the protest intensified.

      1. Howard P

        Yet there were several who fit that bill (masked, with bandanas, but not all black clothing) @ UCD… is there something special about what has been described as “black rock”?

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