9 arrested in UC Berkeley clashes over speech by Breitbart ex-editor
At least nine people have been arrested as pro- and- counter-protests rocked the campus of the liberal University of California at Berkeley as it hosted conservative speaker, former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, police said.
Ben Shapiro, the founder and the editor-in-chief of the conservative website the Daily Wire, was delivering his speech inside Zellerbach Hall at the campus on Thursday night, the university said in a statement. Some 600-700 people attended the event.
In the meantime, about 1,000 people opposed to Shapiro speaking gathered outside the campus, holdings signs saying “Students Against Fascism and War”. Some were chanting “No Trump, no KKK [Ku Klux Klan], no fascist USA,” according to AP.
Shapiro, meanwhile, is not a supporter of US President Donald Trump. Not only has he never endorsed Trump, he has often criticized the president. In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from Breitbart News citing the outlet’s reporting on the Trump campaign.
The crowds were relatively calm until the Zellerbach event ended and a woman, “not affiliated with the university climbed over a barricade on Upper Sproul Plaza,” the university said in a statement.
On Friday morning, police said that at least nine people were arrested “as part of efforts to manage demonstrations and counter-demonstrations at and near” the Berkeley campus.
Police make arrests to ensure safe demonstrations. https://t.co/mq7mX7h41X— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) September 15, 2017
“For the most part it was an orderly event, attended by respectful orderly people,” UC Police Chief Margo Bennett said, as cited by AP, “The crowd in the street was loud, but not violent.”
Students’ opinions divided over the speech of the conservative politician in the liberal university.
Maurice Ang, a junior opposing the event, saying that Berkeley shouldn’t “host any controversial speakers, on either side.”
“I like the way Ben Shapiro talks,” another student, Trinidad Arceo, said, adding that police presence at the event was “overkill.”
Xochitl Johnson, an organizer of Refuse Fascism group protesting Shapiro's speech, criticized the university authorities for deploying police.
“This university has a responsibility to stand up [against fascism] an intellectual center,” she said in an emotional speech to the protesters outside the campus.
The whole event cost the campus some $600,000, according to UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Dan Mogulof.
Between September 24 and 27, other conservative figures are expected to speak at Berkeley, including Steve Bannon, an executive chair at Breitbart News, who worked as Trump’s chief strategist, as well as authors Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter.
The University of Berkeley had previously come under criticism for canceling events with Yiannopoulos and Coulter after protests earlier this year.
In April this year, clashes broke out between hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters at rallies in Berkley, as supporters and opponents of Trump squared off.
In February, rioting broke out at the UC Berkeley campus before a scheduled appearance by then-Breibart News Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, which had to be canceled after protesters threw rocks, broke windows and set fires outside the student union building.
It's hard to estimate the size of the crowd on Bancroft but it has definitely grown in last hour. 1500 People #?— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) September 15, 2017