CHICAGO — Operators of the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, have called off an event with alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos, writing in a Wednesday announcement that they've "heard the voices" of explosive backlash against the booking.
"While Patio Theater prides itself on being one of the few truly independent venues in Chicago, the views and opinions of the performers do not necessarily reflect the views of this organization," the announcement read. "Patio Theater is committed to promoting and supporting diversity and culture, but spares no expense to ensure the safety of our staff, patrons and community at large.”
Yiannopoulos, a former editor of Breitbart who came to national prominence by inflaming the "Gamergate" campaign targeting female technology bloggers, grew into a leading voice for the "alt-right" white nationalist movement before the 2016 presidential election.
The Nov. 13 event would have been Yiannopoulos's first public appearance in the city since May 2016, when student protesters shut down his talk at DePaul University.
Theater operator Charlie Burns had called the booking a "nonpolitical decision," adding that his staff would "take proper security precautions to make sure the tour, fans and any protesters are safe and respected during the event."
But word of the booking rippled across the city, spurring hundreds of people to sign up for a protest within hours. Activists lit into the theater on social media, left negative reviews on Facebook and Yelp and encouraged one another to call the theater directly.
Directors of the Folly Theater in Kansas City, another planned stop on Yiannopoulos's "Troll Academy" book tour, announced Friday that it had canceled its Nov. 5 show, saying they were "concerned about the safety and security of our employees and patrons."