BERKELEY, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ben Shapiro is declaring the "blockade" on freedom of speech at Berkeley against conservatives has been broken.
"Berkeley was closed to conservative speakers for nearly a year," Shapiro told Church Militant. "We broke that blockade."
The conservative commentator and editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire delivered his much-anticipated talk, Say No to Campus Thuggery, on September 14 at the University of California, Berkeley.
Shapiro told Church Militant that, owing to the police being "unshackled" to "do their jobs," there was no violence and that he is overall "pleased" with how the event was allowed to proceed.
"I'm very pleased there was no violence," he remarked, "and while I'm unhappy that the administration put so many limits on how many people would be allowed into the auditorium — they turned away hundreds of people and cut off a thousand seats — I'm glad they finally unshackled the police to do their jobs."
In his speech, he slammed Antifa and the progressive-leftists accusing him of being a white supremacist. "Thanks to Antifa and the supposed anti-fascist brigade for exposing what the radical left truly is," he said in his talk, "all of America is watching because you guys are so stupid. It's horrifying, I am grateful, and you can all go to hell, you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses."
The threat of violence was high because of the history of leftist protesters and Antifa, who have interrupted or shut down past events by other conservative speakers, most notably that of Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. Campus officials made efforts to protect attendees during Shapiro's talk, closing off parts of the campus and putting up dividers steering potentially violent crowds away from certain areas.
Police officers made a strong impression, dressed in riot gear and standing in expectation of physical confrontations. There was, however, no violence like at past events, and only nine protesters were arrested. The talk itself went off without any disruptions.
Although university officials made efforts to keep the event safe for attendees, Shapiro tells Church Militant "they turned away hundreds of people and cut off a thousand seats," by closing off the balcony of the theatre.
Berkeley chancellor, Carol T. Christ commented, "I believe very strongly in Ben Shapiro's right to speak on campus. I don’t agree with Ben Shapiro; in fact I profoundly disagree with him."
She added, "But I believe he was legitimately invited by a student group and that he has the right to speak. It's a really troubling situation."
While Shapiro has been a sought-after speaker at colleges and universities, he has been outright banned by some, and others did little to nothing to prevent protesters from disrupting his events.
In November 2016 Shapiro was threatened with arrest if he attended a talk by friend Christina Hoff Sommers at Catholic DePaul University in Chicago.
Before that, in February 2016, he was banned from speaking at California State University, Los Angeles. When he persisted, maintaining that he would show up anyway, the university backed down and allowed him to speak as scheduled.
Shapiro remarked to Church Militant, that despite all that went wrong, the successful nature of the talk was "definitely a move in the right direction."