U of U to increase police presence for controversial Ben Shapiro event

Ben Shapiro. Photo Courtesy: YouTube

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 27, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The University of Utah is increasing police presence and shutting down areas of its campus ahead of a controversial visit by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro Wednesday evening.

The student chapter Young Americans for Freedom is sponsoring Shapiro to speak at the free event at 7 p.m. in the auditorium next to the Social and Behavioral Science Building (BEH S). The chapter is requiring attendees to have tickets, which were distributed on Saturday, and to show an ID before they enter.

The U has emailed students a safety update advising the campus community:

“Much of the surrounding area will be blocked off, and faculty have had the option of relocating their classes to other buildings. There will be a significant police presence in that area, as well as Presidents Circle, to protect both those protesting and attending the event.”

Various groups are planning protests at the event. A letter to The Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday says: “We have no shame in saying that we intend to shut down Ben Shapiro. This is not a decision we came to based on youthful emotions, or out of some desire for the world to be ‘one big safe space.’ This decision was arrived at based on a real, material understanding of the political environment of Utah, and the material effects of an emboldened far right.” The letter is signed by Students for a Democratic Society at the U. of U., Black Lives Matter Salt Lake City, and University of Utah Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán.

Shapiro is editor-in-chief of conservative news and opinion website DailyWire.com and host of the podcast The Ben Shapiro Show on that site. Shapiro is also the author of six books, including The New York Times bestseller, “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.” Shapiro is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, and the host of The Morning Answer on KRLA 870 in Los Angeles and KTIE 590 in Orange County.

According to Shapiro’s bio, Glenn Beck calls him a “warrior for conservatism, against those who use fear and intimidation to stifle honest debate.” Beck added: “I’ve never known him to back down from a fight.”

The topics that will be covered in the speech, the Young America’s Foundation website says, include the following:

  • Never Back Down: The 10 Rules For Debating the Left
  • Why the Left Hates the Constitution
  • How to Combat University Liberalism
  • Television’s War on Conservatism

The U. has also issued a news release that states administrators and faculty have received many questions about the campus guidelines for speaker events, including free speech and protests.

“As noted in the university’s speech policy, demonstrations are a legitimate means of expression that have played an important role in the university’s collective history,” the news release said. “For this reason, university policy allows individuals to demonstrate freely, as long as their conduct is not violent, does not unduly disrupt the functioning of the university, interfere with the rights of other members of the university community or damage university or private property.”

The U. has issued the following guidelines for the event:

  • Picketing or demonstrating must be orderly at all times, must not violate the law and must not otherwise jeopardize public order or safety. Prohibited disorderly conduct includes, but is not limited to, fighting, assault, vandalism. In addition, to promote safety and help ensure orderly conduct, no masks, bandanas or other face coverings will be permitted on campus.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with organized meetings or other assemblies in such a way as to invade the rights of others to assemble and the rights of speakers to free expression.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with the entrances to buildings or the normal flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with classes and teaching, the use of offices or research facilities, and other university activities related to teaching or research.
  • Using amplified sound systems or otherwise creating noise levels that disrupt teaching, studying, research, administrative activities or the speaker event will not be permitted.

Young Americans for Freedom is also prohibiting participants attending the speaker event from bringing the following items inside the venue:

  • No backpacks or bags, including purses
  • No weapons of any kind, except as expressly permitted by law
  • No hard plastic, glass or metal bottles
  • No balls or projectiles
  • No food
  • No sticks
  • No signs
  • No umbrellas
  • No monopods or tripods
  • No laser pointers
  • No balloons

Gephardt Daily will have a crew at the event and will have more on this developing story.

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