The Latest: Dozens line up to hear conservative at Berkeley
BERKELEY, Calif. – The Latest on University of California, Berkeley boosting security ahead of a speech by a conservative commentator (all times local):
Dozens of people have lined up to hear a speech at the University of California, Berkeley that has prompted massive security as officials fear violent demonstrations.
Police with riot gear have surrounded the plaza in front of Zellerbach Hall, where the former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro is set to speak later Thursday.
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 the speech by Shapiro dubbed Campus Thuggery.
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.
Protesters opposed to a scheduled speech by a conservative commentator at the University of California, Berkeley say they're disappointed they're being kept out of the school's main plaza because of heightened security.
Raphael Kadaris is an organizer with Refuse Fascism, which had planned to protest at the university's Sproul Plaza ahead of the appearance by former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro.
UC Berkeley Police Chief Margot Bennett says protesters can demonstrate on nearby streets, about a block away. Campus police closed the plaza Thursday afternoon and stopped allowing people to enter.
Kadaris says his group wants to criticize white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia and fascism. He says "the police and the chancellor and the university better not attack us."
The speech by Shapiro is set for Thursday night. He was invited by campus Republicans.
Several streets around the University of California, Berkeley, have been closed off with concrete and plastic barriers ahead of a campus appearance by former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro.
School officials say they have sealed off Sproul Plaza — the central hub of the campus — and created a perimeter around several buildings. They say they are ensuring the safety of students and those attending Shapiro's sold-out appearance Thursday evening.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof says the school is committed to hosting a safe and successful event.
Police Chief Margo Bennett says there will be several checkpoints outside the 1,000-seat auditorium, and officers will confiscate banned items, including shields, masks, bandanas, poles and torches.
The city and campus have become a flashpoint this year for the country's political divisions, drawing extremist groups from the left and right.
The University of California, Berkeley is ramping up security as it braces to host conservative commentator Ben Shapiro Thursday night.
Authorities plan to seal off the campus' central hub, Sproul Plaza, with a "closed perimeter" around several buildings including where Shapiro is set to speak to a crowd of 1,000.
The university says there will be "an increased and highly visible police presence" and police will quickly arrest protesters wielding weapons or wearing masks.
The city and campus at UC Berkeley have become a flashpoint for the country's political divisions, drawing extremist groups from the left- and right-wing.
Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February, prompting officers to come up with new strategies to control rowdy and sometimes dangerous crowds.
Campus Republicans invited Shapiro to speak.