Free Speech Week at UC Berkeley was officially canceled, but that didn't stop right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from making a quick, unsanctioned visit to the East Bay campus Sunday.
Flashing an American flag hoodie under a denim jacket, Yiannopoulos blew kisses to the crowd, posed for some selfies and addressed a couple dozen supporters without amplification while hundreds of protesters were kept away by police. Less than a half hour after appearing, Yiannopoulos was whisked away by an SUV.
It is not exactly clear what Yiannopoulos told a small crowd on the steps of Sproul Hall, but the conservative commentator could at one time be heard singing a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He could also be seen hoisting signs into the air reading "Feminism is Cancer" and "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder," in part.
On his way out surrounded by members of his team, reporters and some hecklers, Yiannopoulos vowed to return to the birthplace of free speech.
"It was very important for us to show up today and let Berkeley know that we won't be deterred and let them know we'll be back as many times as it takes," he said.
Berkeley police reported 11 arrests for violating a number of Berkeley municipal codes and California Penal Codes. Police announced that the arrested were: Keith Sherman, 30, Oakland; Kyle McCoy, 28, Oakland; Drean Coxburnett, 23, Berkeley; Jonathan Cho, 27, Oakland; Imalda Starling, 32, Berkeley; David Johnson, 24, Oakland; Rane Stark-Buhl, 27, Oakland; William Orr, 29 Oakland; Kelsey James, 24, Reno, NV; Gautam Reddy, 22, San Ramon; and Syth Feil, 30, Redwood Valley.
Before Yiannopoulos' appearance, chanting and shouting demonstrators had already gathered in Berkeley, coming face-to-face with one another as police tried to separate them.
An estimated $800,000 or more was spent on police personnel and extra support, according to University of California Police Department Chief Margo Bennett. Officers representing roughly eight to 10 agencies, among others, were on hand to keep the peace.
Six-figure spending on police was a "significant" cost, according to university spokesman Dan Mogulof, but it will not impact the university's budget or trigger any budget cuts.
Mogulof also joked that the money spent on mobilizing police for the short appearance amounted to "probably the most expensive photo op in the university's history."
"We would much rather have spent those resources in a different way — on the academic mission, on improving the student experience, infrastructure — I mean, we have serious budgetary needs," Mogulof said. "But our compliance with the First Amendment is not discretionary. Where we do have discretion is in all that we do to provide for the safety and well-being of the campus community."
While the four-day long Free Speech Week has gone up in smoke, Bennett and Mogulof noted that university officials and police will be ready to handle any incidents that crop up over the coming days.
"We have to just be prepared for the unexpected I think this week," Mogulof said.
Demonstrators still remained in the vicinity of Sproul Plaza after Yiannopoulos left, at times clogging city streets and impacting traffic.
Yiannopoulos' visit came one day after he took to Facebook Live to say that he would join Pamela Geller, Mike Cernovich and other speakers at Sproul Plaza at noon for a March for Free Speech — with the full backing of the Berkeley Police Department — even though the student group Berkeley Patriot informed the university that Free Speech Week had been canceled.
"We are going to be hosting an event come hell or high water tomorrow," Yiannopoulos said, vowing to proceed with or without UC Berkeley's or the students' cooperation.
NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith and the Associated Press contributed to this report.