The hate-slinging, self-proclaimed "most fabulous supervillain on the internet" — that is, Milo Yiannopoulos — will not be coming to Phoenix.
A local group of constitutionalists, the United Liberty Coalition, has been working to host the former Breitbart editor for their free speech event for the past two months.
An announcement posted to the group Facebook page today said that Yiannopoulos will no longer be attending the event because they could not confirm his safety.
"This decision was difficult for us to make but ultimately the safety of both our speakers and guests are of the utmost importance to us," the post read.
When Phoenix New Times spoke to group member Shelby Busch yesterday, she said at least 20 venues turned down the opportunity to host Yiannopoulos because they feared retaliation or violence.
In total, the coalition reached out to 65 venues trying to find a home for Yiannopoulos' infamously provocative speeches. Busch said they were denied by 62 locations.
The group's Facebook post included a quote attributed to Yiannopoulos blaming liberals for hindering free speech.
"Left-wing bullies continue to use the threat of violence — and, often, deploy real violence — to suppress conservative speakers," Yiannopoulos said in the statement.
He continued with a call to politicians to defend the right for free speech.
"It is time for America's political leaders to defend free speech with the vigor required to stand up to these would-be totalitarians," he said in the statement. "My fabulousness cannot stand alone."
Refunds will be emailed to ticket holders who spent anywhere between a discounted $27.95 for basic passes to $125 for VIP treatment at a charity dinner (which sold out), United Liberty Coalition wrote on its Facebook site. The event is still happening and is now free for everyone, according to a second Facebook post.
"We still have a great lineup and still plan to have a lot of fun and celebrate our freedom in this beautiful country that we all call home," the post read.
The event was previously listed as a being held at a "secret location." Busch said this was for Yiannopoulos' safety. Where the event will be held now wasn't made clear.
While some will consider this as a victory in blocking hate speech, others considered it a harsh blow for free speech. We'll let you hash that out in our comments section.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.