Finally, supporters of the First Amendment have won a victory.
On September 14, speaker and podcaster Ben Shapiro gave a speech to college students at UC Berkeley. In the days leading up to the speech, many expected riots as the university has experienced its fair share of violent protests in response to conservative speakers.
Antifa had already threatened to use physical violence to shut down the speech. In response, the city made sure that the police were out in full force to prevent rioting.
The Hard Left Denied
Simply put, members of the group were not allowed to engage in their violent antics – and free speech won the day. According to The Daily Wire, “Antifa never showed up in force – and student demonstrations were mostly peaceful, if misguided.” This is because the city of Berkeley allowed the police to do their jobs.
In preparation for the event, law enforcement officers saturated the area around the event. The city had previously announced that they would not allow individuals to wear masks and bring weapons into the venue. The police arrested nine people who were attempting to smuggle “banned weapons” into the area.
In all, the city spent about $600,000 to prepare for the event. Fortunately, law enforcement did not have to use force to prevent members of the hard left from causing mayhem.
Over the past few months, we have seen hard-left groups like Antifa and Refuse Fascism use violent assaults to stifle conservative voices. In many cases, they were successful in their efforts – events were canceled, or ended early due to threats of violence. However, it appears that this disturbing trend might be changing.
Police Protection Works!
Ben Shapiro’s speech at UC Berkeley was an event that revealed the hard left’s kryptonite: police officers who are allowed to protect those who wish to express their political views. Because the police were empowered to prevent violence, Antifa’s efforts ended in dismal failure.
We have already seen what can happen when the police are given orders to stand down in the face of violent protests. In Charlottesville, VA, the police were not allowed to intervene until the violence had already grown too intense. At conservative rallies in Berkeley and Oregon, groups like Patriot Prayer were prevented from holding free speech rallies because law enforcement officers were not allowed to protect them from Antifa.
It is unfortunate that we live in a political climate where conservatives need a police presence to protect them from violence – it is an indicator of how far some people on the left are willing to go to stifle opinions with which they disagree. Nevertheless, it is critical that each city does their part to protect the constitutional rights of Americans who wish to articulate their ideas. Otherwise, groups like Antifa will only continue to increase their thuggish, totalitarian behavior.