Protesters rally against conservative speech at UC Berkeley
iStock/Thinkstock(BERKELEY, Calif.) — A large demonstration took over the campus of the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday night once again to protest a planned speech by a controversial conservative.
This time, it was the editor-in-chief of Dailywire.com and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro who was invited to speak by the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative college group, and Berkeley’s College Republicans organization. The invite sparked outrage and protests that had the city’s police taking unprecedented steps to keep the peace.
Inside Zellerbach Hall, about 200 to 300 people of mostly pro-Shapiro students listened to his speech. He attacked the left, made the case for why he’s not a white supremacist and launched into a profanity-laced rant about antifa.
We did it.
Conservative ideas can be heard at UC Berkeley.
— YAF (@yaf) September 15, 2017
Attendees were ticketed and made their way through metal detectors before entering the hall.
Outside, a few hundred demonstrators where kept back by a large show of police force. Officers dressed in riot gear lined up behind concrete barricades while protesters with a bullhorn rallied on the street.
Thursday’s event was the first since the Berkeley City Council modified a ban and allowed police to use pepper spray if needed.
There were a handful of arrests made outside the event on Thursday night. Berekely Police said they had made three arrests for people carrying banned weapons in the area surrounding the hall. Sarah Roark, 44, and Michael Sullivan, 29, were both arrested for possession of a banned weapon, while Hannah Benjamin, 20, was arrested for possessing a weapon and battery of a police officer.
After the Shapiro speech, attendees exited far away from where demonstrators were staged with a heavy line of police protecting them.
— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) September 15, 2017
Shapiro’s event may be a precursor for later in September when right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos plans to hold “Free Speech Week” at Berkeley with a lineup that includes author Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s ex-strategist and recently rehired head of Breitbart News.
Campus officials told The Associated Press the event is not yet confirmed.
Previous visits by Yiannapoulos and Coulter have both been cancelled at Berkeley in 2017.
ABC News’ Mark Osborne contributed to this report.
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