With unprecedented security measures, Ben Shapiro delivers Berkeley speech

Amid fears of widespread political violence, Ben Shapiro’s speech at UC Berkeley on Thursday night was a mostly peaceful affair, with the conservative commentator delivering remarks where he criticized identity politics and an anti-free speech climate on college campuses around the country.

Berkeley authorities bolstered security for the event, with a barrier being constructed around the perimeter of the area and attendees being required to walk through metal detectors as they entered Zellerbach Hall.

University of California spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university went through “extraordinary lengths” to ensure safety, spending nearly $600,000 on security.

Shapiro, citing the heavy police presence and physical barriers, joked that “Berkeley has actually achieved building a wall before Donald Trump did.”

The 33-year-old editor in chief of The Daily Wire delivered his usual blend of pro-free speech rhetoric and conservative policy, in the speech titled “Say No To Campus Thuggery.”

“America is watching because you guys are so stupid,” Shapiro said about the left-wing group Antifa. “You can all go to hell you pathetic, lying, stupid, jackasses.”

The much-anticipated speech drew national attention, as Berkeley has become a flashpoint in the debate over free speech on college campuses after seeing violent protests earlier this year over speakers like right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and best-selling author Ann Coulter.

Those ordeals prompted serious questions about whether the liberal enclave, which historically embraced principles of free speech and expression, was now unwilling to host opposing viewpoints in a new political climate.

And while the night was largely peaceful, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the venue to protest Shapiro’s views and there were at least three arrests relating to the possession of banned weapons, local authorities said.

The Thursday night speech is just the start of a plethora of conservative voices coming to the Northern California campus, as Yiannopoulos and a student group have organized a “Free Speech Week” later this month. Beginning Sunday, September 24th, there will be a series of events, with speakers including Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich, and journalist Mike Cernovich.

“We’ve never seen a situation like this. It’s very unique. It’s a very different political dynamic where free speech … at Berkeley has become the occasion for the right and left to confront each other,” UC Chancellor Carol T. Christ said about the school’s role in a larger national debate.

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