UC Berkeley Increases Security for Ben Shapiro Appearance
In addition to added security, the university will be providing counseling for students and faculty who may be concerned for their safety.
Preventive security measures will be put in place prior to conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro’s appearance at the University of California Berkeley.
Shapiro, the former editor-at-large for Breitbart News, is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Zellerbach Hall, according to SFGATE.com. The discussion, titled “Campus Thuggery”, is hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation.
Back in February, an appearance from Milo Yiannopoulos, another former Breitbart columnist, was canceled after $100,000 worth of damage was caused by both masked agitators and protestors on the Berkeley campus.
Earlier this week, Provost Paul Alivisatos released a statement regarding precautions the school is taking to hinder the possibility of violent protests.
The statement, released to the campus community, says there will be a “closed perimeter” around Zellerbach Hall, along with an “increased and highly visible police presence”. Several buildings and parking lots near the hall will be closed as well.
Attendees will be required to pass through security barriers and must have a ticket for the event, which they can only obtain with photo identification.
“Our commitment to free speech, as well as to the law, mandates that the students who invited Shapiro be able to host their event for those who wish to hear him speak,” says Alivisatos. “Our commitment to the principles of community mandates that all students, faculty and staff be able to be present on campus, engaging in their regular academic activities without fear.”
“We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging,” says Alivisatos. “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.”
Shapiro mocked the university’s decision to provide counselors, writing in a tweet, “This Shabbat I told my three-year-old she couldn’t have more candy. She immediately registered for counseling at Berkeley.”
Both Shapiro and event organizers have criticized school officials for only releasing half of the tickets for the 2,000 seat hall.
“Tickets for my speech at Berkeley sold out in the first 45 minutes. That’s why @UCBerkeley should release the other 1,000 tickets now,” Shapiro wrote in a tweet on Friday.
According to university spokesman Dan Mogulof, police advised university officials to shut off access to the other 1,000 seats which are located in a balcony, citing increased risk posed by a full house and eliminating the possibility of agitators throwing objects from the balcony.
The statement also says the success or failure of the arrangements being made for Shapiro’s visit will help officials decide how to handle future appearances by controversial speakers.
The assessment of the effectiveness of these security preparations will be crucial as Yiannopoulos is scheduled for another appearance on the UC Berkeley campus later this month.
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