Conservative blogger Ben Shapiro illustrated how “free speech isn’t free” after extraordinary security measures costing roughly $600,000 had to be taken so that he could address students at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday.
Costly precautions were taken to ensure that the 33-year-old conservative could deliver a speech on a college campus that was ironically home to the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s.
When Shapiro delivered a UC Berkeley talk in 2016, the security costs were minimal, he observed. “No violence, no nothing. And now we are spending well into six figures so that I can say many of the same things. It’s utterly absurd,” Shapiro told the audience Thursday, amid metal detectors, concrete barriers and police barricades.
“Conservatives here have done something amazing. They’ve achieved something incredible,” he said, pointing out, “If you look outside, there’s K-bar everywhere. They’ve built, basically, these structures to keep Antifa from invading the premises. So, that means Berkeley has achieved building a wall before Donald Trump did.”
Local police officers were permitted to use pepper spray against violent demonstrators after receiving approval this week from the Berkeley city council. They arrested at least three people armed with weapons before the event, enforcing a ban on weapons near campus.
Apparently spooked by the security, violent Antifa protesters did not use their usual tactics to shut down Shapiro’s speech. Instead, they showed up in the audience to challenge him, the Washington Times reported.
Shapiro — author of the bestsellers “Brainwashed,” “Porn Generation,” and “Project President” — was heckled by Berkeley students who chanted, “Speech is violent, we will not be silent!” and accused Shapiro, an observant Orthodox Jew, of being a white supremacist or neo-Nazi.
“Thanks to Antifa and the supposed anti-fascist brigade for exposing what the radical left truly is,” he told the audience, which was huge despite a last-minute decision by the university to reportedly seize all unclaimed tickets to prevent entry to late-ticket buyers.
“All of America is watching because you guys are so stupid. It’s horrifying, I am grateful, and you can all go to hell, you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses,” he added.
He celebrated the police for ensuring the event occurred, saying, “These are the folks that stand between civilization and lawlessness.”
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He added that “the only people who are standing between those ATMs and the Antifa are the police, and all they get from the left is a bunch of crap.”
The event remained cordial despite students’ disagreements with Shapiro, who was questioned on his views regarding abortion, economics and general politics. Remarkably, he was not interrupted by protesters inside the venue.
Confrontational protesters came out after Shapiro’s speech, shouting at police officers and clashing with counter-protesters.
Two more people were reportedly arrested – bringing the total number arrested to five.
Among the protesters was By All Means Necessary (BAMN) ringleader Yvette Felarca, who was recently arrested for allegedly inciting a riot, Fox News reported.
A crowd led by Felarca marched down a street, shouting, “Nazi scum off our streets,” but they were separated from the counter-protesters by police so that the two groups would not fight.
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