The Latest: Protesters angry with Berkeley plaza closure

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The Latest: Protesters angry with Berkeley plaza closure
The Latest: Protesters angry with Berkeley plaza closure

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – The Latest on University of California, Berkeley boosting security ahead of a speech by a conservative commentator (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

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.

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1 p.m.

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.

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8 a.m.

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.

In this Sept. 8, 2017, photo, a woman tapes flyers on a University of California, Berkeley campus bulletin board calling for a protest against right-wing speaker Ben Shapiro in Berkeley, Calif. The university will seal off large parts of its campus like a fortress with a closed perimeter and a “very large” visible police presence Thursday, Sept. 14. City and campus authorities anticipate demonstrations at a speech by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, and are preparing for possible violence with a variety of new strategies and tightened security. (AP Photo/Jocelyn Gecker)
FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, a bonfire set by demonstrators protesting a scheduled speaking appearance by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, burns on Sproul Plaza on the University of California at Berkeley campus on in Berkeley, Calif. Trump supporters and left-wing protesters have taken to the streets repeatedly in recent months in supposed free-speech demonstrations accompanied by escalating violence. But even on the so-called “Left Coast,” officials in famously liberal cities such as Portland and Berkeley are growing tired of the repeated violence. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 file photo protesters clash with police, in Portland, Ore. Trump supporters and left-wing protesters have taken to the streets repeatedly in recent months in supposed free-speech demonstrations accompanied by escalating violence. But even on the so-called “Left Coast,” officials in famously liberal cities such as Portland and Berkeley are growing tired of the repeated violence. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP, File)
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