SALT LAKE CITY — The Latest on a conservative commentator’s speech that’s drawn protest at the University of Utah (all times local):
University of Utah police say they arrested two people from a crowd of about 300 as scuffles broke out between protesters and counter-demonstrators during a speech by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
Chief Dale Brophy said Wednesday that officers quickly broke up two fights outside the venue where Shapiro spoke. One person was booked into jail and another was cited and released, both for disorderly conduct.
Brophy says three more people were briefly detained and released.
He says the security cost about $25,000, though he expects some of that will be defrayed because departments who sent officers to help won’t ask the school to pay the full amount.
University spokesman Chris Nelson says the heavy police presence, which followed an example set by University of California, Berkley, was effective in keeping people safe.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro says it’s “pathetic” that a significant police presence had to accompany his speech at the University of Utah.
He spoke Wednesday to about 400 people in Salt Lake City, saying that violence is unacceptable, and the idea that he’s a violent speaker is “delusional.”
Student groups protesting his event in Utah had said that his stances on issues such as gay and transgender rights could hurt vulnerable people.
In his talk, Shapiro decried concepts such as white privilege while he cheered free market principles and hard work to applause from the audience.
A few people walked out of the room shortly after he began in apparent protest.
Dozens of people at the University of Utah have protested before a speech by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro in a largely peaceful display.
More than 100 protesters carrying signs with slogans like “Hate is not Welcome Here” and “Bigotry Kills” gathered on Wednesday night.
A few dozen counterprotesters gathered nearby led to tension and occasional verbal volleys, but not serious clashes.
Several police officers stood near the protest, and many more watched over the building where Shapiro spoke, located a short walk away.
The lines of police cars and barricades came after Utah administrators visited the University of California, Berkeley, where officials created huge police presence to ward off violent protests at a Shapiro appearance.
The University of Utah is barring face masks and planning a significant police presence as it prepares for a speech by the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, whose appearance set for Wednesday night has already drawn protests at the Salt Lake City campus following discord in places like California and Wisconsin.
University spokesman Chris Nelson says officials are trying to keep both protesters and attendees of the speech safe while avoiding a “police state” atmosphere on campus.
Administrators traveled to Berkley earlier this month to learn from University of California preparations for a speech by the ex-Brietbart editor that included a heavy police presence.
Free tickets for Shapiro’s talk expected to critique identity politics and left-leaning ideas were quickly snatched up by Utah students who waited in long lines.