UC Berkeley plans extreme security ahead conservative speech event

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Riots and cancellations have plagued conservatives scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley, from Milo Yiannopoulos to Ann Coulter. Now ahead of a planned speech from political commentator Ben Shapiro the University is increasing security.

"Our police did a comprehensive review and we're going to be acting on those lessons. We'll have far more police officers here, we're confronting anyone wearing a mask," said Dan Mogulof, spokesman UC Berkeley.

This map show building closures for the Shapiro event taking place in Zellerbach Hall Thursday night. Large concrete traffic barriers are being brought in to form a wide perimeter. UCPD has requested mutual aid from neighboring police agencies.

VIDEO: Who is Ben Shapiro?
EMBED More News Videos

Ben Shapiro is set to speak at the UC Berkeley campus on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.

Shapiro is a conservative commentator, lawyer, and former Breitbart editor.

"We have two key commitments here: one is to free speech and the first amendment and the other is to the safety and well-being of our campus and we don't think they need to be mutually exclusive and we're going to do what's necessary to support both of those commitments," said Mogulof.
The Berkeley College Republicans are hosting the event.

VIDEO: What to do if you're stopped by police at a rally

"It is nice that they have this infrastructure in place. It's nice that they have the concrete barriers, but if they don't stand up to these thugs and they stand down those concrete barriers won't do much," said Naweed Tahmas with the Berkeley College Republicans. Tahmas is referring to violent protesters who've demonstrated at previous events.

The national group, Refuse Fascism, is calling for a non-violent speak-out outside the event. They say Ben Shapiro is part of a larger movement of fascism and they call the Donald Trump presidency a "regime."

VIDEO: Trump supporter pepper sprayed at Milo protest
EMBED More News Videos

A Trump supporter was giving her statement to ABC7 News when someone pepper sprayed her on camera. Violent protests moved through downtown Berkeley Wednesday night after an event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled.

"He's (Shapiro) a slick talking reasonable sounding man, but what he actually pushes forward is white supremacy, is misogyny," said Sunsara Taylor with Refuse Fascism.

"I think our students here are responsible enough to react accordingly to the message that is given and also to honor that there has to be a debate and there has to be a discussion," said Isabella Pao-Ling Chow, Cal undergrad.
"If there's no conversation happening here I don't see where else it can be so I'm a hundred percent for this speech happening here," said Felix Derosen, grad student.

RELATED: 95-year-old Holocaust survivor vows to march against hate in Berkeley

Shapiro spoke on campus last year with basic security before the presidential election.

"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."

Click here for a look back at stories and videos about recent protests around the Bay Area.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.