THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM: Police protect Shapiro from protesters
After widespread anticipation, and three botched attempts at bringing a speaker to campus, law enforcement successfully allowed Ben Shapiro’s appearance at Berkeley to go on as planned.
“After allowing leftist thugs to rule the city, the police finally took a stand and took back control of Berkeley,” Vice President of Berkeley College Republicans Naweed Tahmas told Campus Reform. “After our last three events were cancelled, there remained a conservative void on campus. This time, students had the opportunity to listen to a perspective that is traditionally not heard in Berkeley classrooms.”
Both campus and local police took unprecedented measures to ensure the event, which was co-sponsored by organizations such as Young Americans for Freedom and the College Republicans, went along peacefully in anticipation of planned Antifa riots, which shut down the campus in February when Milo Yiannopoulos was set to speak and deterred Ann Coulter from speaking.
Despite an enthusiastic rally replete with bombastic vows to go "outside the norms of protest" because " the very nature of the world...is at stake," most of the protesters stayed very much within "the norms of protest" as they demonstrated under the watchful gazes of a veritable army of police officers.
According to The Los Angeles Times, officers erected physical barriers along a half-mile region on campus, blocking Antifa access to the auditorium Shapiro was set to speak in, while requiring anyone who passed through security to present a ticket.
As Campus Reform reported Thursday evening, the City of Berkeley Police Department had warned protesters that anyone found carrying a weapon within the perimeter would be immediately arrested, and at least nine were.
In fact, the department began tweeting out images of the suspects in custody, including their names, ages, and reasons for arrest.
While the exact cost of the heightened security precautions remains unclear, Shapiro commented before the event that the number was in the ballpark of $600,000.
“Free speech isn’t free. It costs over $600,000 thanks to Antifa,” he tweeted, continuing to take jabs at Antifa throughout his speech.
“Go to hell, you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses,” he said to Antifa to cheers from the audience, though profusely thanked the police for their work.
“Thank you to the police. You did an amazing job,” he said, thanking them again after the event for “restoring order and ensuring the exercise of free speech.”
“The Berkeley College Republicans took the lead in facilitating open and civil debate. Tonight, students had the opportunity to debate a prominent conservative commentator,” Tahmas told Campus Reform after the event. “Outside the venue, there was some low energy chanting and incoherent screeching by leftists. However, the event went as planned.”
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