Cal Poly is preparing for the return of alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos today as the College Republicans and Turning Point USA host a "fake news" panel that is expected to draw protests and a large police presence.
The event comes as waves of outrage have hit the campus following incidents of racist behavior by two fraternities and the posting of hateful fliers and graffiti in Cal Poly buildings.
The panel will be held at Cal Poly's Mott Athletic Center at 7 p.m. and also features YouTube personalities Austen Fletcher, also known as "Fleccas," and Carl Benjamin, aka "Sargon of Akkad."
Tickets required pre-registration and are no longer available.
Before the panel, here's what you need to know about Yiannopoulos' social-media post in reference to the event, the police presence and how you can watch from home.
'Darkest spray tan possible'
Just over two weeks after a fraternity blackface scandal ignited tensions over racism at Cal Poly, Yiannopoulos trolled the incident, saying he was getting the "darkest spray tan possible" ahead of his planned talk.
"In honor of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)’s HORRIFIC recent blackface incident I am getting the darkest spray tan possible before my talk tomorrow — it will make my new white linen suit really POP!" Yiannopoulos wrote in Facebook and Instagram posts on Wednesday.
The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity was placed on interim suspension after photos posted online showed a fraternity member in blackface and other members throwing gang signs while dressed as gang-member stereotypes at a weekend party. The university subsequently suspended all Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic fraternities and sororities, while the school investigates a second report of racist photos by fraternity members.
The photos prompted outrage among Cal Poly students upset by what they identified as systemic racism at the predominately white school. Hundreds of students jammed into a classroom to air their distress at an April 16 emergency town hall meeting, and a week of protests followed.
Expect rooftop spotters and fences again
Like Yiannopoulos' previous visit to the university in January 2017, the event will have a hefty security presence: Police from all 23 California State University system campuses will travel to San Luis Obispo to support the college's University Police Department. A San Luis Obispo Police Department officer will also be on hand for support at the incident command center.
Cal Poly University Police Chief George Hughes previously said the police presence will be similar to that of Yiannopoulos' last visit, when more than 100 police officers, including SWAT and riot police, were dispatched to maintain order.
He said those on campus could once again expect to see fences and rooftop spotters in the vicinity of Mott Athletic Center.
The chief said he hoped to avoid a riot like the one that broke out ahead of a planned Yiannopoulos event at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1, 2017 — the day after he spoke at Cal Poly.
Don't protest — potluck
Instead of protesting Yiannopoulos' return visit to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon called for community members to host potlucks.
Protesting against alt-right speakers creates a spectacle and gives extremists a larger platform, Harmon said in a written statement. She said communities should listen and talk to each other and stand against racism by supporting all people, especially those in marginalized groups.
"Let's take this opportunity to come together and remind ourselves that San Luis Obispo is about building bigger tables, not higher walls," Harmon wrote. "We invite you to join together with friends, neighbors and strangers. Share a meal and your ideas for a better SLO and a better world."
How to watch
The Tribune will provide live video on Facebook from the protest outside of the event. Follow our Facebook here.
Reporter Andrew Sheeler will also be sharing updates from the protest on Twitter. Follow him at @andrewsheeler.
Reporter Kaytlyn Leslie will be inside at the panel, live tweeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Follow her at @kaytyleslie.