Alt-right author and political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos will soon take the stage at the Patio Theater, bringing his Troll Academy Tour to Portage Park on Nov. 13.
This will be Yiannopoulos’ first appearance in Chicago since a DePaul University event in May 2016 sparked outrage on the campus, and the former Breitbart editor will once again be met with protest.
More than 300 people have RSVP’d to a protest organized by the Chicago chapter of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or Answer. The group said on Facebook that it will protest outside the theater before, during and after the show to “make it clear to Yiannopoulos that Chicago will not tolerate his ideology.”
Charlie Burns, operator of the Patio Theater, said the venue has received dozens of negative emails and calls regarding Yiannopoulos’ content but will host the show as planned.
“As an independent theater we need to give equal rights to all performers,” Burns said in an email. “However, we are not always 100 percent in agreement with every artist that we book for music, comedy or speaking engagements.”
The Troll Academy Tour, which began Friday, will hit 11 cities in the United States and Australia, with seven shows being held at “secret locations.”
The tour website does not say what the show will entail, but calls it a vamped up version of Yiannopoulos’ campus tour, “The Dangerous Faggot.” A website for Yiannopoulos’ media company MILO Inc. says his work “is dedicated to leading the battle for the soul of western civilization” against the evils of Islam, and points out that Milo “is hated by everyone from feminists to islamists.”
Yiannopoulos, who became a voice for alt-right white supremacy groups during the 2016 election, resigned from his position at Breitbart this year after a video surfaced in which he appeared to defend pedophilia.
Edward Ward, an African-American student who interrupted Yiannopoulos’ speech at a DePaul College Republicans event, said he stepped on stage to stop the speech because he felt its purpose was “to insight more bigotry and hatred and racism and sexism” by dismissing the struggles of African-Americans and women without encouraging an open dialogue.
“I was listening to this guy while standing next to peers, members of LGBTQI community, and noticing how in shock they were, some of them in tears, because they couldn’t believe this platform was allowed on DePaul’s campus,” said Ward.
Ward said he felt the need to end the event because Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric toward minority groups would make DePaul’s campus less safe.
“His type of language historically has been followed by the bloodshed of many of our people,” said Ward. “His supporters tend to become relentless in their attacks.”
After interrupting Yiannopoulos, Ward received hundreds of threatening messages on Twitter and Facebook that included racial slurs, and threats that Ward would be killed, lynched, or that his family would die in a house fire. He also experienced a physical attack when two men on the DePaul campus punched his car and then attempted to physically assault him.
Though he will not protest the November show, Ward said if Yiannopoulos is coming to have an open dialogue, he is welcome in the city. “If he comes with the same ideology and same rhetoric he will be met with the same reaction.”
Burns said he is concerned a protest may cause a safety hazard at the Patio Theater for residents and business owners in the area and attendees of the show. The all-ages show has sold about 200 tickets and is scheduled to take place at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Patio Theater at 6008 W Irving Park Road.