Milo Yiannopoulos may not be the rising star he was the last time he visited Cal Poly, but the university isn't taking any chances when the alt-right firebrand speaks next week.
Police from all 23 California State University schools will travel to Cal Poly for the April 26 fake news panel, according to a CSU statement. The event is hosted by the Cal Poly College Republicans and Turning Point USA and features Yiannopoulos, YouTube personality Austen Fletcher (Fleccas) and Carl Benjamin, known online as "Sargon of Akkad."
The panel will be held at Cal Poly's Mott Athletic Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Cal Poly University Police Chief George Hughes said the police presence will be similar to that of Yiannopoulos' January 2017 visit, when more than 100 police officers, including SWAT and riot police, were dispatched to maintain order. Hughes said people on campus can also expect fences and police spotters on rooftops.
The chief said his rationale was to avoid a riot such as the one that broke out ahead of a planned Yiannopoulos event at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1, 2017, just one day after he spoke at Cal Poly.
In addition to CSU police, the San Luis Obispo Police Department will have an officer on-scene at the incident command center, SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said.
Yiannopoulos' last visit to San Luis Obispo cost Cal Poly and the CSU $55,400; the City of SLO spent more than $9,000. Hughes said the upcoming visit will likely cost something similar.
Yiannopoulos comes to Cal Poly at a highly charged time, with the university reeling from multiple instances of racism on and off campus.
Waves of protesters have marched to condemn a fraternity member photographed in blackface and others posing as Latino gang members, as well as the university itself for its handling of those incidents and the school's limited diversity.
Then this week, racist fliers, graffiti and vandalism appeared in multiple buildings on campus.
In a statement, Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier wrote that Cal Poly "is required to uphold free speech rights and provide an open forum for a variety of opinions, thoughts and ideas — even those that may be distasteful or offensive. Censoring language and viewpoints violates First Amendment rights and does not represent what Cal Poly stands for as a university."