Mayor Jesse Arreguín speaks on progressivism and free speech at Free Speech Movement Café

Audrey McNamara/Senior Staff

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Mayor Jesse Arreguín held a forum on “Progressive Mayorship” at the Free Speech Movement Café on Monday night, covering topics including freedom of speech, violent protests and the role of Berkeley as a progressive city under the Trump administration.

Arreguín began the event by first affirming his commitment to freedom of speech in light of the violent rallies in the city Saturday, one of several violent outbursts in Berkeley this year. He said he was committed to respecting the right of everyone to peacefully express their opinions, whatever they are, yet he stressed the importance of public safety.

“Public safety is our top priority,” Arreguín said. “And that actually, I believe, takes precedence over freedom of speech.”

Arreguín reflected on the beginnings of his mayorship, and moved through important moments of his political career. Arreguín was voted the first Latino mayor in Berkeley history on Nov. 8, 2016, while Donald Trump won the presidential race on the national stage.

“While Berkeley moved to the left, our country moved to the right,” Arreguín said. “I was shocked, honestly, and incredibly saddened that Trump could win the election. I think this is something that many of us did not expect to happen.”

Arreguín noted the history of Berkeley as a progressive force, as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and center of the anti-war movement in the 1960s. So far, Arreguín has taken action against the Trump administration by reaffirming Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city and directing city staff to divest from companies involved in the construction of a Mexico border wall.

Arreguín answered questions for the majority of the event, with topics ranging from affordable and student housing, to the homelessness crisis, green energy and freedom of speech.

“I am hopeful. I know that we are capable of forming strong, unbreakable coalitions and of leading the way,” Arreguín said. “So let’s rise together, let’s make it clear that we will not go silent into the night, but rather shine and be a beacon of hope during these difficult times.”

The event was sponsored and introduced by the Free Speech Movement Café Educational Programs Committee and the Progressive Students Association. Helen Jentzen, a member of the Free Speech Movement Educational programs Committee, said the crowd of roughly 50 people was the largest she’d seen at a FSM event.

Jentzen said Arreguín seemed extremely thoughtful, while Doreen Ludemann, an East Bay resident, praised the way Arreguín grappled with the free speech versus public safety issue.

“We saw that Mayor Arreguín is willing to speak out against the Trump administration,” said Daniel Fields, a board member of the Progressive Student Association. “He is really proving to be the progressive leader he campaigned as.”

Edward Booth covers city government. Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.

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  • Karmann Ghia

    this mayor is an idiot – need to vote him out

  • Effie Ordway

    I love how he said that free speech should take a back seat to public safety. I remember the left screaming the Ben Franklin quote about sacrificing liberty for safety, and deserving neither, as an argument against the patriot act after 9/11. Isn’t this pretty much the same thing?

  • SpringfieldXDMod2

    Jesse Arreguin, antifa member LARPING as a mayor.

  • RHG

    Of course “progressive” just being a euphemism for communist as this mayor is. This tub of goo is a supporter of hateful, violent black clad communists who have no problem resorting to violence to achieve their political goals. This clown shouldn’t be anywhere near city hall, let alone as “mayor” and will have blood on his hands because of the violence he ignores and encourages.

  • questioningall1 .

    If Jesse Arreguín and Michael Moore would both just go on diets, they could end world hunger.

  • Thomas S

    This guy is a hypocrite. He has in the past clearly stated that people who disagree with his far left politics are engaging in unwelcome “hate speech.” Now he is saying that “security” (conveniently decided by him) trumps free speech rights. I’m not sure he’s really understanding how free speech works.

    What a disgrace.

  • TaiFood

    Where was the Public Relations inviting the Civil Rights movement’s visitors on April 15th?

    Isn’t the Mayor of Berkeley a fan of racist BAMN/Antifa/IGD who promotes riots and explosives?

  • Remove Democrats

    Bunch of hot air… nothing else.

  • Aimadigithat

    He does NOT believe in free speech.

  • freeinaz

    Can Ann Coulter speak at this place too Mayor, can she?

  • Buk Lao

    This offends me as a vegan transgender atheist who vapes and crossfits 4 times a week and im also a male feminist as I identify myself as a pastafarian apache helicopter dog mega multi combo god of hyper death and if you dont agree with me. You’re an ignorant arrogant globaphobic sexist lesbian.

  • wreckinball

    Until the rioters and the suppressors of free speech get thrown in jail and expelled nothing will change

  • roccolore

    Liberals hate free speech.

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Historically, which organization has done most to protect free speech in the US? Hint: it is a liberal group.

      • FreedomFan

        Perhaps. But the ACLU hates the second amendment, which has protected the 1st and the rest of the Constitution for all these decades.

        In contrast to “Liberals”, Leftist Democrats are violent, anti-free-speech fascists.

  • lspanker

    Arreguin’s commitment to free speech is less than his commitment to progressive symbolism. If he really cared about free speech that time, he would have been condemning the violent lefties who operate under the ANTIFA/Black Bloc/BAMN umbrella instead of the lawfully elected president of our country.

    • jabuchan08

      Instead he saved his condemnation for “right wing provocateurs,” because he is a piece of… well you get my meaning and i won’t explicate it further.

  • Leonidas

    If the mayor believed in free speech he would have ordered his police to protect people from getting beaten up last weekend. The mayor has contempt for anyone who dares to disagree with him.

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Berkeley has a city manager form of government. The mayor does not control the police. The city manager does.

      I think the police were trying to do the best they could with the resources they had. They were outnumbered by protestors, who are willing to violently attack the police.

      • Leonidas

        I disagree that “the police were doing the best that they could do with their resources they had”..
        I watched on CNN as antifa thugs were beating their people on the head with clubs. The police were watching and did nothing. They allowed it to happen.

        • Sam Spade

          The clubs were taken away from the bad guys their friends tried to take them back. All they got was a split wig

      • laura

        You need some police sources before speculating.

      • aloharider

        violent rioters, NOT protesters… violently attacking the police results in lethal force in the real world.

    • Unapologetic America

      The nutsuckling student of Che’ will pay dearly, President Trump and Atty Gen Sessions in addition to the law-abiding patriots injured by his anarchist stormtroopers as police stood idly by will see to it. The citizens of Berkeley best prepare to did deep as the judgements are going to result in YUGE property tax hikes.

      • That’s adorable how you don’t know how high our property taxes already are

        • Unapologetic America

          Oh I know how HIGH they already are I’ve looked them up and compared them but just wait you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet. Victims of the deranged Che’ worshiping Berzerkely mayor, it’s police dept and its’ inaction along with the Democrats stormtroopers, Anti-Fa/Anti-Ra, are aiming for maximum awards for the violations of their Civil Rights.

          There will be NO “settlements” these victims want massive “judgements” and for a jury to declare they were wronged by those charged with protecting them. The best part is Anarchists have no jobs, no cash, no “real” property of “value”, the city on the other hand is “on the hook” as are the residents, the same idiots that elected the Leftist ideologues that served up law-abiding citizens to a violent mob.

          The victims are “amending” complaints during the “discovery” process and preparing to file against every elected official/city employee involved including those that prepared, faxed, emailed, broadcast directives which means means each will need their own attorney to represent their best interest all at the taxpayers expense. It’s going to bankrupt the city just with legal fees alone before appeals as the city won’t be able to use it’s own attorneys as they too will be defendants since they advised the mayor and police.

          What you are about to witness is the biggest legal bank robbery in history, bigger than Brinks or Lufthansa, the best part is it’s the idiots that voted for the Leftist politicians that are going to pay and pay big.

          • laura

            I hope the victims do sue Berkeley.