The University of California, Berkeley announced that it would tighten Security ahead of a visit by Jewish Conservative Ben Shapiro on Thursday night. Shapiro's visit has sparked fears of violence and comes after protests marred right-wing Milo Yiannopoulos' visit in February.

During the February event, masked left-wing anarchists rioted outside the venue, forcing the event to be canceled. They threw Molotov cocktails at the officers manning the venue and caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.


In a bid to avoid a repeat of February's violent protests, authorities have announced that they will seal off the venue, including nearby buildings close to the venue where the speech will take place.

Shapiro is scheduled to speak to a sold-out 1,000 strong audience.

In a statement, the campus said that there would be an increased and highly visible police presence on the campus grounds to deter any trouble makers.

Police officers got a major boost this week when an emergency meeting of the City Council modified a 1997 ban to allow them to use pepper spray to quell any unrest. Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood said that any protesters with masks or wielding weapons would be arrested.


UC Berkely has become a center of the country's political divisions pitting the far-right and left-wing extremist groups of late. So far this year, the campus has witnessed four violent demonstrations since February raising concerns at the world renowned campus.

Shapiro's invitation to speak at the university came from campus Republicans who have in the past accused the UC administration of attempting to stifle Conservative speakers.

The heightened security at the campus is expected to disrupt the normal business at the University.

Free speech week

Shapiro's visit is being seen as a curtain raiser for another event that is due to take place later this month dubbed 'Free Speech Week.'

The event organized by Yiannopoulos will feature a controversial line-up that will include Stephen Bannon who is Trump's former strategist and also the head of Breitbart News and Ann Coulter.


While some feel that the political talks featuring controversial figures are healthy, Sociology Professor Michael Burawoy disagrees. He says that whether the talks are allowed or not, it will be a lose-lose situation for the campus, as it has become a flashpoint of the country's the main political divisions.