Wednesday’s demonstration that attracted more than 1,000 protestors in opposition to conservative author Ann Coulter’s immigration policy speech at UC Berkeley resulted in several arrests, one reported injury and a human barricade that surrounded the entire venue.
Coulter was invited to campus by the Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, amid controversy to give a talk titled “Adios, America!” According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, five protesters were arrested on charges including wearing a mask, resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, and one man was injured. During a press conference Wednesday night, Mogulof said about 400 people attended the speech.
“I think that (the protest) was great … all the students and everyone that came out to shut down the event showed what’s necessary to enforce the status of campus as a sanctuary campus,” said Hoku Jeffrey, spokesperson for By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, which participated in organizing the protest. “The action that happened yesterday really was able to counter the sense of hostility on the campus, the potential for racist violence and … make the campus more safe for minorities and immigrant students.”
No weapons were used nor was any property damaged, according to Mogulof. During the press conference, UCPD Chief Margo Bennett said one man, who was ticketed to go to the event, was reported injured and brought to a hospital.
During the press conference, Mogulof said the security costs covered by the campus will be “significant,” although the total event cost has yet to be tallied and will take at least a week to pull together.
Students and Berkeley community members began gathering at 4 p.m. outside Wheeler Hall, where Coulter spoke, holding signs that read “shut down Coulter” and chanting, “Berkeley is a sanctuary, no Coulter, no ICE,” and, “No justice, no peace, no racist police.” Picket lines formed on the north and south sides of the hall, and barricades separated dozens of police officers from protesters.
Protesters blocked event attendees from entering the event and formed a human barricade around the entire building at 9:30 p.m. One attendee jumped over police barricades and another had their ticket ripped by a protester. Mogulof said no more than a few people were unable to enter because of the protest.
Of those arrested at the demonstration, three were cited and released at the scene. One student was released from the Berkeley Police Department Jail Facility without charges, and another, arrested on charges of battery on a peace officer and trespassing, was bailed out of Berkeley City Jail on Thursday.
BCR External Vice President and campus senior Rudra Reddy, who is a former Daily Californian columnist, said BCR had not anticipated the scale that the protest reached and said it was “completely inappropriate.”
“Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, the idea that you can harass and bully people and tear tickets of attendees should be universally condemned,” Reddy said. “I hope that this is the reaction this gets in the future.”
During her speech, Coulter said “anyone can become a great American” but that immigrants “make us less free,” as the United States is “the freest country in the world.”
Coulter added that the delay in building a wall at the U.S. southern border is a “missed opportunity” and suggested that it would be an opportunity for increased employment for people with criminal records.
Legally and because of campus policy, UC Berkeley must honor all events hosted by registered student organizations, Mogulof said. He added that the UC is committed to the first amendment, free speech and the safety, security and wellbeing of the campus community.
The campus will provide students with emotional and psychological support, Mogulof said at the press conference.
“The presence of those speakers is not a campus endorsement of those perspectives by any stretch of the imagination,” Mogulof said. “The University of California has clearly stated its own values and beliefs regarding, among things, immigration issues.”
Amber Tang and Skylar Schoemig contributed to this report.