Ben Shapiro’s visit cost UC Berkeley an estimated $600k for security

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In anticipation of potentially violent protests, the campus paid an estimated $600,000 in security expenses for conservative author Ben Shapiro’s visit Thursday, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

The campus is still compiling invoices for the event to determine the exact cost of security for Thursday night, Mogulof said. Police officers from UCPD, Berkeley Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office provided security for the event, and UCPD also set up a barricade to surround six buildings, including Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Zellerbach Hall, Cesar E. Chavez Student Center and Eshleman Hall.

Shapiro’s event, however, continued without interruption, while protests that took place outside were largely contained and peaceful.

Mogulof said the campus based their security assessment on past protests that broke into violence, specifically the Milo Yiannopoulos protests in February. He added that “there’s no crystal ball” when it comes to preparing security for political events and speeches, which have often been disrupted by violence around the country.

Andrea Prichett, member of the Police Review Commission and a founding member of Copwatch, said the number of police officers “seemed excessive.” She added that she would have to reserve judgment because it is possible that police could have received some threat that the public was unaware of.

Prichett said, however, that she had concerns about the banned item list, which called for the arrest of individuals holding items that are typically legal in other situations.

She added that some individuals who were arrested had their mugshots released by BPD with the description that they were arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned weapon — but in some cases, Prichett said, the alleged “banned weapon” was a cardboard sign.

Campus student Emanuel Velazquez said he believed that the police were over-prepared, causing an inconvenience to students.

“We have to deal with it as students,” Velazquez said. “(Thursday) was militarized.”

Contact Elise Ulwelling at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @EMarieulwelling.

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  • Rhet Oric

    I don’t care who is at fault, $600,000 is a lot of potential college scholarships, funding for rebuilding hurricane ravaged infrastructure, financial support for animal rescues and sanctuaries, seed money for projects on sustainable farming, 800 of Martin Shkreli’s Daraprim pills, 44,444 regular-priced Daraprim, and an infinite list of other far more important things. Priorities. Get them in order.

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  • the devil

    Antifa didn’t come. With all this presenting their side and for a waste of $600k, at this university, nobody learned a damned thing. In a couple of months they’ll be crying about scrounging money to keep the library open and making excuses why employees can’t get a raise. For the last 30 years, they’ve cut off the heat over winter break and shut departments that were left too cold for work to be done.

    • lspanker

      Antifa didn’t come because they were well aware that the police were prepared and ready this time. Your complaint is along the line of somebody whining about spending money on a burglar alarm when nobody broke in…

    • Rollie

      “…nobody learned a damn thing.”

      You don’t speak for everyone.

      • the devil

        …you, least of all.

        • Rollie

          Correct. Now you get it.

  • Jack Spencer

    If we could be a civilized community, that affords all their constitutional rights, there would be no need for the militarization.

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    Why are you blaming the speakers and not the people who are violent protesters that are the cause of the $600K? Do you not know how logic works? Berkeley is anti free speech and its obvious.

    • the devil

      The protesters were not violent. Shapiro sold you another wolf ticket. That one cost you $600k.

      • lspanker

        You damn well know they were violent in the past, and only backed way this time because the police were actually ready for them…

        • the devil

          If you had a brain, you’d understand how counterinsurgency works.

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        Yes, because they finally spent the $600K. If they weren’t violent then why did Berkeley spend $600K to protect others? Have you watched any Antifa protests prior to this? They couldn’t wear masks or bring weapons this time. What’s a wolf ticket? I listened to it online on YouTube and it was interesting, did you?!

        I’m surprised that you haven’t seen them be violent, but if you haven’t, check it out. They were obviously violent and listed as a domestic terrorist group during the Obama administration in 2016.

        Moral of my story: Liberals, in my experience, do not accept others views and actively call me racist for just believing something different. Shapiro is far from very controversial, unless you are misinformed and/or crazy. He is also the opposite of a fascist. You should give his podcast a listen one time, its less than an hour. He usually spends half of bashing Trump…

  • ESPM360

    One needs not look any further than historical leftist ideology at UCB and surrounding communities for the need to pay and protect our freedom of speech. Why does the left and many college students want to give up freedom?

    • lspanker

      The left is morally and intellectually bankrupt. They know they can’t defend their views based on facts or logic, so they resort to these type of tactics instead.

      • the devil

        Was the was in Vietnam right, then? Congratulate the Vietnamese student in your class who keeps raising the bell curve.

        • lspanker

          WTF are you babbling about?

          • the devil

            Read it again when the beer and weed you get your courage from wears off. Oh yeah, lspanker has very low reading comprehension.

      • Rian

        You claim the left can’t defend their views, yet provide zero evidence of anything you say 😂

        P.S. I highly advise you get a life, son

    • the devil

      You could have gotten all the free speech you need on the 6 o’clock news instead of paying over half a million dollars to watch a clown meddle the middle class. Suckers.

      • ESPM360

        The 6 o’clock news (mass media) is part of the problem. Sucker.

        • the devil

          Not if you possess average intelligence at least, sucker. WWIII- would you like fries with that?

  • I’d love to know what the standard procedure for paying for events is. Obviously, BCR doesn’t have $600K, but then it was the Young Americas Foundation who actually helped bring Shapiro. They filed a 2015 990 form which had $36 million in revenue and $65 million in total assets. It certainly seems like they could help contribute a bit…

    More generally, I’d love to know how the campus expects to fund events like this and where that $600K comes from. At a time went you cut budgets for TAs and course resources, it seems unbalanced to spend this much on an event for 700 people.

    It’s probably best that the money was spent (given that nothing violent happened), and turning Shapiro away because of money would be terrible optics (and possibly lead to more protests…), but, y’know, it’d be nice to actually fund classrooms.

    • lspanker

      Well, Michael Bell, if you’re SO worried about all that money spent, why don’t you ask the violent, autocratic, immature Antifa crowd why they are so morally and intellectually deficient that they need to break things and beat people up when they don’t agree with their views. Once again, abject cowards like you blame the victims because you lack the spine to stand up to thugs…

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        I know, I understand what he is saying and possibly where is coming from but to lack all scope on why it is $600K appears to be his lack of knowledge. I don’t know why they are blaming the people who spoke (Ben Shapiro is not very controversial if you actually listen to his speeches and podcast) when the reason they had to pay $600K was because of Anti-fa. I think its just a small world view that was supplied to them.

      • the devil

        Antifa had to take off their masks, wear uniforms and do police overtime here.

        • lspanker

          Go away, nobody who is halfway sane or intelligent believes your bizarre interpretation of events.

          • the devil

            Scares you, doesn’t it?