Two nights on Milo Yiannopoulos’s campus tour

Milo Yiannopolous in Boulder (Credit: PA Images)

Abigail Edge followed the notorious online troll’s speaking tour to two campuses in Colorado and found plenty of protests, supporters and hateful rhetoric

Around a dozen police in riot gear line the entrance to the mathematics building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Inside, professional hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos is addressing an audience of around 400 people, peppered with bright red baseball caps.

Outside, a restless crowd of 200 protesters are holding signs and chanting anti-Trump slogans, their breath rising amid freezing temperatures – cold enough to make your cellphone cut out. A roar rises up from the crowd, followed by the smell of smoke. The smouldering remains of a red “Make America Great Again” hat hit the ground.

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“What I’m scared about is the normalization of fascism, and what I’d regard as fascist values like racism and sexism,” says Charles Wofford, a 28-year-old graduate student who has come to protest the event.

Online petition

Wofford started an online petition asking CU Boulder chancellor Philip DiStefano to revoke Yiannopoulos’s invitation to speak that received more than 1,850 signatures. Although the university never responded to the petition, he hopes to keep the momentum of that action going.

“If Milo can come here and be given a platform, then there’s no particular reason to think that the American Nazi party or the Ku Klux Klan might not want to come here,” says Wofford. “So the organization that’s come from protesting Milo needs to stay in place.”

CU’s main campus, in Boulder, is set in one of the most liberal cities in the US. With a population of 103,000 people, the city has been a destination for hippies, rock climbers and radical thinkers since the 1960s.

“What I’m scared about is the
normalization of fascism”

Last year Forbes named Boulder the most educated city in the US, and it has more used bookstores per capita than any other city in the country, according to the local tourist board. With that comes wealth – the cost of the average Boulder home surpassed $1m (£808,210) in 2016. In November’s election, more than 70% of Boulder’s votes were for Clinton and just 22% for Trump.

Yiannopoulos – who is gay, an outspoken Trump supporter and a Breitbart editor – is visiting CU Boulder on his campus speaking tour, The Dangerous Faggot, the name of which is emblazoned across his tour bus.

He spends the first 20 minutes of his talk rallying against the liberalism of Boulder before launching into a diatribe covering feminism, the media and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, on whom Yiannopoulos unleashed an army of racist Twitter trolls, resulting in him being banned from the platform.

Hosted by the conservative student organisations College Republicans and Turning Point USA, Yiannopoulos’s speeches have been widely protested in both the UK and the US. Earlier this month, his appearance at the University of California, Davis, was cancelled after protests. And last week, on inauguration day, a protester was shot at the University of Washington where a large demonstration was taking place outside Yiannopoulos’s event.

Counter protests

Outside the red sandstone mathematics building, Avalon McFarland, a 20-year-old sophomore wearing a grey hat and glittery eye makeup, is part of a smaller counter-protest.

Not so long ago, she was a liberal herself. She caucused for Bernie Sanders but changed her perspective after the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton’s emails, which McFarland claims showed Sanders was “working for Hillary”.

Speaking about the next four years under a Trump presidency, she says: “I’m really hopeful because I think this ushers in an era of populism.

See the original story on The Guardian