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

Joshua Jordan/File

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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 [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @christinegiul.

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  • matt10023

    What the administration is saying is that it’s the fault of the speakers, not the rioters. Those businesses that were damaged a few months ago should sue the speaker rather than the passive campus police who just sat there at the behest of administrators. Got it.

  • 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.


      • Rob

        Ever hear of Word War 2? Were the French, Russians, Americans, etc Nazis because they used any means necessary to fight them? Where’s the logic? Why do people use the word Nazi so loosely? Anybody got a dictionary? There are abusers of the word Nazi on many sides (Spade and Marmot for starters). Milo, Trump, and Hillary are not Nazi, and very few Democrats or Republicans are Nazis. Oh, and don’t get too excited about Sam Spade using the word “we.” Heaven only knows who he was referring to.

        • Killer Marmot

          These days, the word “Nazi” is used in common parlance to mean anyone who uses draconian measures to control others. Live with it.

          • Rob

            So anybody who’s not your personal version of Libertarian is a nazi? Perhaps that parlance is common among your peers. Not mine. Frankly I am pretty sure nobody that I’ve ever known personally has ever (in my presence) referred to somebody as a nazi in that casual manner except in combination with another word, such as “grammar nazi” which is something I could be accused of being if I were not writing a run-on sentence.

          • Killer Marmot

            You’re putting words in my mouth for the purposes of starting an argument. Not playing that stupid game. Last post.

    • 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.

        • Rob

          I went to UCB. I did not notice any leftism. Most of my classmates were chinese and far more interested in their GPA than politics. (OK call me racist if you like.) I was a minority (“white” person which by the way I consider to be an epithet) in about half of my classes which was usually not an issue.

          Do you know anyone who has taken any classes there?

          • California Defender

            If there were a lot of Chinese kids hyper-focused on GPA (not actual knowledge?), then you were likely taking STEM classes.

            You were a minority in half your classes and that was “usually” not an issue? When was it?

            And yes, I know people who have graduated from and are currently enrolled at Berkeley.

          • Rob

            Yes they were STEM classes. The only time I had an issue with being a minority was that I was once assigned lab partners who were Chinese and I experienced anti-American racism from that particular group of 3 students. One time I was the ONLY “white” guy in a lab class and that was kind of weird but that was actually a nice experience. (Oh, the TA in that lab was “white” too.) I’m talking about the early 90’s, and from what I can tell things haven’t changed much. I visit there from time to time.

            There was virtually nothing going on (early 90’s) in terms of activism on campus. Out of curiosity I once went to a free speech by Noam Chomsky at Zellerbach (theater on campus). His speech was entirely non-political and incredibly boring (the subject of the presentation was linguistics).

            The only “lefty” housing on campus (they served food to anybody who showed up, which I guess makes them commies) was closed by the regents back in 1990 under the pretext of furthering the war on drugs So no, U.C. Berkeley is no longer a bastion of leftward leaning students. I’m guessing any lefties you know who are in attendance there are outliers.

          • California Defender

            Of course it was STEM! This is one area where Berkeley still does fairly well. But this intellectual well is drying up as more of the professors who carry that water retire and are not replaced due to the sinking reputation.

            This is magnified by Berkeley’s profit motivation by bringing in more high-tuition foreign students at the expense of low-tuition Californians. They also serve a more sinister purpose, as you pointed out from personal experience.

            As For Chomsky, he can be quite controversial, even when speaking on linguistics. But I suppose there wasn’t a single protester outside Zellerbach. Perhaps Milo should lecture about garden snail hibernation. Do you think that would stop the violent protests?

            And I’m not sure what “lefty” housing is. But I do know that Berkeley is one of the most leftist universities in the world. Even a Jewish intellectual like Ben Shapiro has a hard time speaking there. Berkeley had to deploy 700 police to keep the leftist mob outside from destroying Zellerbach theater. That is nearly one cop for every attendee just to protect them from a few “outliers” as you say?

            Berkeley is now synonymous with anti-free speech, anti-intellectualism, lack of diversity of thought, masked thugs in black, and the normalization of intimidation and violence at universities.

            Increasingly, I hear parents say “I’d never, ever send my kids to Berkeley”.

            Me neither.