- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2017

The number of activists arrested during Ben Shapiro’s speech Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley climbed to nine as campus officials declared that the event went off with “barely a hitch” despite the large protest crowd.

“There’s a sense of relief and satisfaction that the event was able to go forward without disruption, that those who chose to protest did so in largely nonviolent ways and that, overall, things went as well as could be expected,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof at a media briefing.

Outside, the protest crowd swelled late Thursday to about 1,000, but the demonstration was far less charged than other violent conflagrations this year in Berkeley by leftist crowds aimed at shutting down conservatives.

Berkeley police said the charges against those arrested during the latest free-speech showdown included battery, carrying a banned weapon, resisting arrest, public intoxication and disturbing the peace.

It appeared that none of the nine were students at the prestigious university, given their ages and places of residence. Only one suspect listed his address as Berkeley, and he was 45, according to information released by the Berkeley police.

The highly anticipated speech drew roughly 700-800 people to Zellerbach Hall, which holds nearly 2,000, but about 1,000 seats in the balcony were closed off over security concerns, Mr. Mogulof said.

“Our law enforcement professionals came to us and said, ‘We really need to close the balcony. We’re not comfortable with having 1,000 people in a balcony that doesn’t have a high guard rail and about things being thrown and fights breaking out,’” he said. “It was totally a security measure.”

There were some empty seats below the balcony, prompting Mr. Shapiro to say that the hall would have been filled if university officials had allowed in would-be attendees lined up outside the venue who didn’t have tickets.

Why cut off admission when seats were available? Mr. Mogulof said attendees were required for security reasons to sign up ahead of time, give their name and show a photo identification when picking up the tickets, which were free.

Berkeley College Republicans, who hosted the event, wanted to admit people from a stand-by line, but were told, “‘We can’t do it. We’re not going to have a situation where we don’t have name match with the people who are in the crowd,’” Mr. Mogulof said.

“They are absolutely correct that the whole place wasn’t filled, but it was for reasons having only to do with what law enforcement said,” Mr. Mogulof said. “Any limitation on audience size was not decided by the campus administration. It came from law enforcement.”

UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ, who assumed office in April, made it clear she would clamp down on the mayhem by declaring in August that this would be a “free-speech year” on campus.

She said the university would “provide safety and security for its community and guests” and “invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal.”

“If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor,” she said in an Aug. 23 statement. “We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it.”

Mr. Mogulof estimated security costs surrounding Mr. Shapiro’s two-hour appearance at about $600,000, more than the amount spent at the Feb. 1 event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos, which was cancelled after rioting broke out on campus, resulting in $100,000 in damage.

There was a large police presence outside the event as neighboring law-enforcement departments were brought in to help keep the event under control.

Antifa groups rallied behind those arrested in posts on social media. Buddhist Antifa called Michael Paul Sullivan, 29, who was arrested for carrying a banned weapon, a “hero martyr” and said the group had contributed to his bail fund.

“He is out as of this morning, ready to smash fash again,” said Buddhist Antifa, referring to “fascists.”

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