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UC Berkeley watches over 2,000 demonstrators, allowing conservative commentator Ann Coulter to speak

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The demonstrators gathered 2,000 people and demanded that the crowd stop a speech on immigration this week by right-wing commentator Ann Coulter at UC Berkeley.

Some wore black. Some marched in a circle and shouted anti-coulour songs. Some waved signs that Coulter calls a racist who supports fascism, ethnic cleansing and white supremacy. In versatile and liberal Berkeley, protesters of students and communities were particularly confused by Coulter & # 39; s anti-immigrant battles in her 2015 book, "Adios America! The plan from the left to turn our country into a Hellhole in the Third World. "

But Coulter came. She spoke. She went away.

And it all happened without major problems – the kind of violent protests that stopped a Berkeley show in 2017 by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, drew national headlines and led President Trump to threaten to stop federal funding for the university.

"What was important … was what didn't happen," UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said Thursday. "We did not see the kind of violence, chaos and destruction of property participating in the event with Milo Yiannopoulos."

The police arrested five people, including three students for resistance to law enforcement. One person was injured during a scuffle with a demonstrator. There was no material damage during the conversation, attended by around 400 people.

Matt Ronnau, president of the UC Berkeley College Republicans, who invited Coulter, said that as many as 100 students had refused entry by protesters who linked weapons as a human barricade at the entrances. He also said that a few students reported that knives were pulled, but Mogulof said the police did not receive such reports.

However, Ronnau said the event generally went well and praised UC police officers for their work.

"The supporters … always do a fantastic job," he said. "Without them, we could have had a very bad situation in 2017 that was comparable to Milo."

Mogulof said that demonstrators were "passionate and agitated" and that many came determined to end the conversation. But this year the campus was ready after Chancellor Carol T. Christ, who took the helm in 2017, started working with UC police to improve crowd control methods and launched "Free Speech Year" with panels to show how opposing views in a respectful and learn more about the first amendment.

At the Coulter event, Berkeley kept control thanks to the police's "extraordinary professionalism", lessons learned about crowd control from the 2017 protest, and students who followed rules for campus events that were adjusted last year, Mogulof said.

Police forces from nine UC campuses, along with backup of the California Highway Patrol, were on hand.

Mogulof refused to give details about how many police were deployed, but said that all undergraduate campuses except UC sent Santa Cruz officers. UC campuses almost always prefer their own police, Mogulof said, because they are specially trained in protest management and best understand the priority of the university system in terms of public safety and freedom of expression.

Since the Yiannopoulos protest, he said, Berkeley has spent more than $ 4 million on security measures and changes in the way law enforcement information is collected, with outsiders coming to the campus, scares plans to incite violence and protects the speaking location.

Berkeley has undermined the wearing of masks, for example in accordance with an old state law that prohibits them from being detected by the police. The university strengthened its policy after many Antifa members and other protesters wore masks while storming the campus during the Yiannopoulos event. On Wednesday, those wearing masks were asked to remove them, Mogulof said.

Another change that helped maintain peace, Mogulof said, is that student organizations are now closely following a policy that describes the process for holding major campus events, including pre-notification requirements, deadlines, and planning meetings. The policy was amended last year to clarify the responsibilities of both the campus and student organizations as part of a legal arrangement with conservative students who complained that the campus would randomly create barriers to their proposed events, preventing them from receiving speakers.

Since the Yiannopoulos event, the College Republicans have held campus forums with a large number of conservatives, including Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, Rick Santorum, Charlie Kirk, and Sean Spicer.

"Each of them went without incident, without problems of any kind," Mogulof said.

However, the Coulter talk attracted the most protests since 2017. The event was described in detail on Twitter by The Daily Californian news reporters as well as members of the Berkeley College Republicans.

After her speech, Ronnau described Coulter as "one of the nicest people I have met who is furthest from a white nationalist and Nazi."

She told students that she supported a wall on the southern border to stop illegal immigration and a moratorium on legal immigration so that the nation could first take care of its own people & # 39; faced with homelessness and crime-stricken neighborhoods, Ronnau said.

Ronnau, a major subject in statistics, agreed that Berkeley has significantly improved the climate for free speech.

"It has definitely improved and we are very grateful for that," he said.

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