Speed Reads

free speech is expensive

In Berkeley speech, conservative Ben Shapiro taunts antifa, which didn't show up to protest him

Police at the University of California, Berkeley spent an estimated $600,000, brought in law enforcement from all nine Bay Area counties, and shut down a whole section of campus on Thursday so former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro could speak at Zellerbach Hall. The protests were largely peaceful, with four to nine people arrested. "For the most part it was an orderly event, attended by respectful orderly people," UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett said. "The crowd in the street was loud, but not violent." UC spokesman Dan Mogulof said at Berkeley. "There was a general sense of relief that it was peaceful."

In February, a group of black-clad anarchists joined a peaceful protest against an ultimately canceled speech by Breitbart editor and alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, smashing windows and causing damage. UC police viewed the Shapiro speech as a test before an unconfirmed "free speech" week of talks in two weeks by Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Stephen Bannon. Like Shapiro, they were invited to Berkeley by the campus Republicans.

The "antifa" anti-fascist brigade did not show up on Thursday, but Shapiro addressed them anyway from inside Zellerbach Hall, where there was a respectful exchange of differing views between Shapiro and the under-capacity crowd. "America is watching because you guys are so stupid," he said of the antifa protesters. "You can all go to hell you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses."