Conservative Commentator Speaks at University Amid Heavy Security


The University of California, Berkeley increased security Thursday ahead of a speech by Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator invited by campus Republicans.

As Shapiro spoke Thursday night, city police arrested Hannah Benjamin, 20, for battery on a police officer and carrying a banned weapon. Meanwhile, 44-year-old Sarah Roark was taken into custody for carrying a banned weapon.

Dozens of demonstrators were outside Zellerbach Hall where Shapiro delivered his speech, titled Campus Thuggery, but police kept the two sides apart. The event was sold out in the 1,000 seat auditorium.

Earlier Thursday campus police closed Sproul Plaza, which is in front of Zellerbach, and police with riot gear surrounded it to thwart any violence. UC Berkeley Police Chief Margot Bennett said protesters could demonstrate on nearby streets, about a block away.

Eighteen-year-old high school senior Nick Handley says he tried to get others to come to Berkeley with him from Modesto, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of San Francisco.

But he says they were scared about the potential violence outside. Handley says the heavy police presence is sad, particularly since taxpayer money is being spent.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof says the security could cost $600,000.

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