Friday afternoon came word that Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial writer accused of promoting white nationalism, would be coming to Kansas City to perform at the historic Folly Theater.
Friday evening came word that no, he would not.
Yiannopoulos, the former tech editor of Breitbart, was to speak at the Folly on Nov. 5 as part of his Troll Academy tour, which includes stops across the country and in Australia. The description of the event on the Folly’s website states that the “Troll Academy teaches America how to effectively fight the culture war for the soul of western civilization.”
Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagements have met with violent protests, most notably multiple times this year in Berkeley, Calif.
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The Folly did not immediately comment Friday afternoon on the Yiannopoulos booking.
“For questions regarding the Nov. 5 event, please check out our website. A statement will be released within the next 24 hours,” the theater’s outgoing phone message stated late Friday afternoon. The link to the event page also stopped working around 5 p.m.
About 7 p.m., the Folly sent notice that the show had been canceled.
“We were concerned about the safety and security of our employees and patrons,” said the statement from executive director Gale Tallis.
“Over the years, we have rented our theater to a wide variety of organizations, hosting everything from church services to drag queen shows. ... The views represented by artists aren’t necessarily reflective of the views of our staff, volunteers, board or donors.
“Unfortunately, when we booked this appearance we were unfamiliar with the personality involved. We did not conduct the appropriate due diligence and for that we are sorry. ... We remain committed to bringing in diversity, but the safety and security of our staff, patrons and volunteers is always our highest priority.”
Yiannopoulos did not immediately respond to an email.
The English-born writer and social media provocateur was the subject of an extensive exposé by BuzzFeed News earlier this month, which documented his emails with white nationalists during his time at Breitbart.
Emails obtained by BuzzFeed showed Yiannopoulos corresponding with the system administrator of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, and an editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance as part of his effort to compile a guide to the “alt-right” movement for Breitbart, a website run by President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
The report also included a video of Yiannopoulos singing “America the Beautiful” at a Dallas karaoke bar while Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who has led tiki-torch rallies in Charlottesville, Va., performed Nazi salutes. Yiannopoulos has repeatedly denied that he is a white nationalist or supremacist.
Rev. John Price of Kansas City said in an email that he respects Yiannopoulos’ right to speak but that he should be called out for his comments, including remarks he made about sexual relationships between teen boys and adults. Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart earlier this year after an interview in which he claimed such relationships could be consensual gained attention.
“You see, this is a man who has made many comments of a racist variety, supporting pederasty, among others,” said Price, a survivor of childhood sex abuse.