Berkeley Police, UCPD anticipated larger turnout at Ann Coulter protests

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Nearly 300 UCPD officers from at least four UC campuses waited on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza expecting violent protests in reaction to the cancellation of conservative author Ann Coulter’s planned campus address on Thursday.

Demonstrators gathered on both Sproul Plaza and Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Thursday in reaction to the cancellation of Coulter’s planned speech on campus. Two hundred to 300 mutual aid officers were called in from other UCPD departments to patrol Sproul Plaza, according to Berkeley Police Department Lt. Andrew Rateaver. Other campus UCPD departments called in to assist Berkeley included UCLA, UC Irvine and UCSF, Berkeley UCPD Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez said.

Rateaver said more than 70 BPD officers were stationed throughout Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center and along Telegraph and Shattuck avenues in anticipation of protests. BPD had planned for a “worst case scenario,” according to Rateaver.

Hernandez added that the large police presence on campus was in anticipation of various possible scenarios, including violent protests.

“We are clearly in new territory here facing a new reality,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof. “It’s apparent that there are numerous individuals who are ready, willing and able to turn universities into battlegrounds.”

According to Mogulof, the cost of Thursday’s security arrangements will “far exceed those that the campus was forced to pay in February,” although the exact cost has yet to be determined.

“The campus, however, obviously has no problem whatsoever with utilizing the resources required to provide safety and security of the campus community,” Mogulof said. “That’s an unshakable commitment.”

Some campus community members, however, expressed concerns over the heavy police presence on campus.

ASUC Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordova-Goff said in an email that she believed the police’s “continued, heightened presence re-traumatizes students who come from communities with complicated relationships to the state.”

“I do not think campus safety must rely on the police,” Cordova-Goff wrote in an email. “I think (UCPD) must be active in recognizing the trauma their presence alone brings to some students and work to limit visibility while remaining an open resource to those who choose to use it.”

UCPD made two arrests in connection to the protests, including an arrest for allegedly delaying a police officer and failing to provide ID and another arrest for allegedly carrying a knife on campus, according to Hernandez. BPD also made five arrests in connection to the protest at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park, according to Rateaver. Mogulof added that no residents were harmed, nor were any businesses damaged.

Coulter had originally been invited by Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, and BridgeUSA at Berkeley to speak on campus Thursday. The campus, unable to find a suitable venue for the event for April 27, offered Coulter an alternative date for her speech, May 2, which the right-wing author rejected.

After the Young America’s Foundation, BCR and BridgeUSA pulled their support of Coulter’s event last week, Coulter announced Wednesday that she would no longer be speaking on campus.

“We’d received multiple reports that she was coming and then she wasn’t coming, that she was speaking and then she wasn’t speaking,” Hernandez said. “It became a constantly evolving situation.”

Although Coulter declared that her event would no longer be taking place, campus administration and UCPD continued to plan security measures as they “had intelligence that certain individuals who had engaged in violence in the past still intended to come to campus,” according to Mogulof.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President-elect Rigel Robinson wrote in an email that he was concerned with the effects that “severe militarization” of the campus could have on students’ well-being.

“Unfortunately, our campus has become a target, and it’s crucial that our administrators spend this summer consulting students to determine exactly how best to handle situations like this in the future,” Robinson said in an email.

Contact Amber Tang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.