clear
Thursday September 21st, 2017 2:57AM

UC Berkeley under tight security for conservative speaker

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The University of California, Berkeley has ramped up security as it braces to host conservative commentator Ben Shapiro Thursday night, the latest polarizing figure to raise concerns of violence on the famously liberal campus.

Authorities plan to seal off the campus' central hub, Sproul Plaza, with a "closed perimeter" around several buildings including where Shapiro is scheduled to speak to a sold-out, 1,000-person audience. There will be "an increased and highly visible police presence," the university said in a statement.

For the first time in two decades, officers have been authorized to use pepper spray to control violence after the city council modified a 1997 ban at an emergency meeting this week.

Berkeley city police chief Andrew Greenwood said officers would make "very strong, rapid arrests" of protesters wielding weapons and wearing masks.

The city and campus at UC Berkeley have become a flashpoint for the country's political divisions, drawing extremist groups from the left- and right-wing. Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February, prompting officers to come up with new strategies to control rowdy and sometimes dangerous crowds.

"We have seen extremists on the left and right in our city," said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, a Democrat who backed the police request to use pepper spray. "We need to make sure violence is not allowed."

Shapiro was invited to speak by campus Republicans, who say the liberal university stifles the voice of conservative speakers.

The Berkeley College Republicans invited right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to speak last February, but the event was abruptly canceled when masked left-wing anarchists rioted outside the event to shut it down.

Police and UC Berkeley officials were criticized at the time for giving demonstrators wide latitude and standing aside as the masked anarchists hurled Molotov cocktails at officers and caused $100,000 worth of damage.

Tighter, new security measures are expected to disrupt campus life Thursday and later this month, when Yiannopoulos says he plans to hold a "Free Speech Week" on campus with a lineup of controversial figures including Ann Coulter and Stephen Bannon, Trump's ex-chief strategist and head of Breitbart News.

Thursday's event is being watched as a warm-up act for later this month, although campus officials say the event later this month is not yet confirmed.

Sociology professor Michael Burawoy, who is chairman of the Berkeley Faculty Association, says there is growing frustration over the disruptions.

"There are faculty who don't think the campus should be the site of this, what they call, political circus," Burawoy said, adding that the headline-grabbing visits by controversial speakers put the university in a no-win situation.

"We bring them on campus and allow them to speak and we encourage both right- and left-wing groups" to hold potentially violent protests, he said. "If we exclude them, they say Berkeley doesn't believe in free speech. It's a lose-lose situation."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
UC Berkeley under tight security for conservative speaker
UC Berkeley ramps up security for right-wing speaker Ben Shapiro, braces for violence
3:42AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Phones help crabbers retrieve gear before it kills whales
West Coast crabbers use cellphone GPS to retrieve lost fishing gear that's snaring record numbers of whales
3:39AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, refugees still fleeing
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, thousands were still fleeing Myanmar every day
3:38AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bruce, (W)indians enjoying record ride together
Jay Bruce relishing time with record-setting Indians, who set AL record with 21st straight win
2:41AM ( 1 hour ago )
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, aid remains scarce
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya refugee crisis, desperation spreads at camps in Bangladesh where aid remains scarce
2:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
8 die at Florida nursing home in Irma's sweltering aftermath
Eight patients at a sweltering Florida nursing home have died in Hurricane Irma's aftermath, raising fears about the safety of Florida's 4 million senior citizens
2:28AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Officials: Student killed confronting shooter at high school
A probe is underway and prayers have been offered in Rockford, Washington, where authorities say a high school student shot and killed a classmate and wounded three others on Wednesday
12:10AM ( 3 hours ago )
Democrats say they have deal with Trump on young immigrants
The top House and Senate Democrats say they have reached agreement with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation and fund some border security enhancements _ not including Trump's border wall
11:23PM ( 4 hours ago )
Lawyers in Weiner's teen sexting case says he's no predator
Lawyers for disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner say he's no predator and have asked a judge to spare him prison when he's sentenced for transmitting obscene material to a 15-year-old North Carolina girl
11:18PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Phones help crabbers retrieve gear before it kills whales
West Coast crabbers use cellphone GPS to retrieve lost fishing gear that's snaring record numbers of whales
3:39AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, refugees still fleeing
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, thousands were still fleeing Myanmar every day
3:38AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Malaysia fire blocks lone exit to Islamic dormitory; 23 dead
A fire that blocked the only exit to an Islamic school dormitory killed 23 people who were trapped behind barred windows on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital
3:32AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Oldest residents' safety more vulnerable during disasters
Stories of suffering by the oldest residents in the line of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters seem to follow
3:26AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Qatar emir due in Turkey for first trip since Gulf crisis
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is due in Turkey in his first foreign trip since the eruption of a diplomatic crisis between his nation and other Arab states
3:21AM ( 24 minutes ago )