9 Arrests as Conservative Firebrand Speaks at Berkeley

School spends $600K on security for Ben Shapiro appearance
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 15, 2017 10:21 AM CDT
9 Arrests as Conservative Firebrand Speaks at Berkeley
Protesters shout before a speaking engagement by Ben Shapiro on the campus of the University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.    (Josh Edelson)

A phalanx of police and a campus on virtual lockdown Thursday accomplished the University of California, Berkeley, administration's goal of allowing a conservative to speak at the famously liberal university, one that has become known more recently for its violent demonstrations between those with opposing viewpoints. Outside, hundreds of protesters were also allowed to voice their displeasure over the speech by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, chanting "no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Others held signs objecting to the university hosting Shapiro, the AP reports. "For the most part it was an orderly event," UC Police Chief Margo Bennett said. "The crowd in the street was loud, but not violent." Berkeley police tweeted that nine people had been arrested.

"We had a successful event tonight," UC spokesman Dan Mogulof said, adding that the university is committed to hosting speakers like Shapiro in the future. Streets were closed and concrete barriers were erected in what many saw as the latest polarizing event to raise concerns about violence in the city. Xochitl Johnson, an organizer with Refuse Fascism, a group protesting Shapiro's speech, attacked the university for deploying police for what she said was the creation of a safe space for fascists. She said it was wrong for the school to shut down the campus to let him speak. Shapiro was invited to speak by campus Republicans, who say the liberal university stifles the voice of conservative speakers. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof estimated security costs could hit $600,000 for the event. (More University of California Berkeley stories.)

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