The cost of free speech: campus spending on protest management totals $894,000 in 2016-17

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The UC Berkeley campus typically allocates about $200,000 each year to manage protests, but in fiscal year 2016-2017, it spent almost $900,000 responding to protests, as first reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In recent months, UC Berkeley has been the setting for costly clashes over free speech. On February 1, Milo Yiannopoulos’ canceled speech spurred violence from protestors on Sproul Plaza. Additionally, when Ann Coulter was invited by Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA to speak to campus April 27 — but later chose not to speak — UCPD anticipated similar threats, according to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich.

“For the Coulter event, there was quite a bit of pre-intelligence from opposing groups stating their intentions to engage in violence in our community, so we took measures to maintain campus safety,” Reich said in an email. “UCPD was not willing to allow a repeat of the unprecedented violence that occurred around the Milo Yiannopoulos event, if it could be deterred or prevented altogether.”

The $894,000 spent by UCPD were related to protest and demonstration response and management, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said. Costs were incurred where UCPD determined there was a need for additional security measures — before, during and after on-campus events.

The Berkeley Police Department also incurred additional costs while assisting in and preparing for any possible threats related to campus protests.

Protest-associated costs in preparation for anticipated April 27 demonstrations, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel, totaled $122,000 with $115,000 allocated toward staff overtime fees, while the difference went toward renting vehicles and purchasing other “provisions.”

According to Manu Meel, an executive board member of BridgeUSA at Berkeley — a nonpartisan organization that helped plan the intended Ann Coulter address — security was maximized for the intended April 27 address because there was a “huge risk of violence.”

Meel said the solution lies in promoting productive dialogue and peaceful protests.

“The police are not necessarily at fault, nor are the students, but it’s external organizations coming to campus. Ensuring that there is a strong crackdown on those external forces such as Antifa will solve a lot of the issues regarding police funding, budgeting and the issues … making our campus almost a warzone,” Meel said.

Meel added that BridgeUSA at Berkeley will “draw a strong line” between inviting someone “who is a commentator like Ann Coulter” and a speaker who can “add to the conversation in a productive manner.” Meel said the group plans on inviting individuals from all sides of the political spectrum who they believe have contributed meaningfully to a specific policy proposal or have substantive educational background regarding an issue.

Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason said he believes that overspending resulted partially because of poor planning by the Berkeley College Republicans, and said inviting “controversial” speakers requires earlier collaboration with the campus.

“Cal Dems believes that … organizations can bring whoever they want to campus,” Nason said in an email. “However, organizations need to do so in a professional manner, and work with University administration to ensure that all events will be as safe as possible.”

Contact Christine Giuliano at cgiuliano@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter at @christinegiul.

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  • Woolsey

    Protest management? What protest management? Seemed like Cal just let antifa/black bloc and the other rioters do whatever they wanted. How much can that cost? If the police are just going to stand around and watch, the administration should hire students at 1/10th cost to put on uniforms and stand around, can’t be that difficult.

  • roccolore

    The College Democrats should have to pay for all the costs. It’s their supporters who riot and loot.

  • Sam Spade

    Get ready to spend more money in August. Berkeley is a nazi free zone and we will enforce it by any means necessary

    • Killer Marmot

      If you’re willing to use any means necessary then Berkeley is not a Nazi-free zone.

      • California Defender

        🏆 POST OF THE YEAR 🏆

        Well done, sir! I was going to reply to Sammy, but you’ve already buried him in logic to which no amount of digging with his rusty spade will get him out.

      • lspanker

        If you’re willing to use any means necessary then Berkeley is not a Nazi-free zone.

        WE HAVE A WINNER!

    • roccolore

      Democrats in Berkeley ARE Nazis. They hate free speech, especially that coming from Jews, Christians, and critics of radical Islam.

  • Killer Marmot

    Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason said he believes that overspending resulted partially because of poor planning by the Berkeley College Republicans, and said inviting “controversial” speakers requires earlier collaboration with the campus.

    The rising cost of security is due to demonstrators crossing the line from peaceful protest to violence and intimidation.

    Full stop. Have the integrity not to blame the victims, Nason.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      These people are so disillusion, it’s kind of scary how indoctrinated they can become.

      • California Defender

        This indoctrination is exactly the same employed by any totalitarian regime in history.

        Except what used to be a concentration camp ringed by barbed wire and guard towers is now a concentration classroom ringed by barbed books and guard professors.

        The freedom of speech, expression, and thought was extinguished at Berkeley long ago. What remains is a dark, cold factory of industrialized leftism belching the pollution of propaganda.