Los Angeles, CA – Students groups who oppose conservative pundit Ben Shapiro have claimed their lives are in danger because of an increased police presence when he is set to speak on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) on Oct. 4
“The safety and lives of minority communities on the University of Southern California’s campus is in harm’s way,” announced an alarming statement circulated on social media on Sept. 20 by the USC Black Student Assembly, Latinx Student Assembly, and the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly.
“USC has agreed to co-sponsor a student-led organization called Young Americans for Freedom to bring Ben Shapiro to campus,” the announcement continued.
“This man is known to be a purveyor of hate speech, including the eradication of entire races, and discriminatory comments against a multitude of minority communities,” they claimed.
It’s not clear if they are referencing any actual comments from Shapiro or if they’re just making stuff up.
Shapiro, editor of The Daily Wire, is an orthodox Jew who spoke on the same campus as a guest of the USC College Republicans in 2015 without incident.
He was a radio host and editor at Breitbart at the time, according to the campus newspaper The Daily Trojan.
“USC has agreed to provide thousands of student dollars to fund extra campus police and an LAPD presence, including uniformed police officers, undercover officers, dogs, and surveillance on the day of the event to prevent non-violent student protests,” the groups complained in their message. “This degree of law enforcement has the potential to put black and brown communities at serious risk of being racially profiled or targeted.”
Although the content of the memo is dramatic, it is not accurate.
The need for effective security at such an event was demonstrated when authoritarian student and antifa groups protested violently on other campuses where Shapiro and other conservative speakers have been guests.
In September of 2017, nine people were arrested protesting Shapiro at University of California – Berkeley and two were arrested protesting at University of Utah, according to The Daily Trojan.
USC Director of Public Safety Chief John Thomas was quick to correct the false information being disseminated.
“It is our responsibility to assess the needs and provide sufficient resources to ensure the safety of members of our campus community and event participants,” Chief Thomas told The Daily Trojan in a statement. “Our role is to make sure that all parties on campus may safely exercise their first amendment rights in accordance with university policy.”
The chief said the use of K9s for security purposes at the event was “never part of the safety plan.”
The total estimated cost for campus police and private security to facilitate the event is $15,000, and is being paid for by the student group sponsoring Shapiro’s appearance, according to USC Young American’s for Freedom (YAF) President Maxwell Brandon.
YAF applied for, and was awarded, $4,100 from the USC Undergraduate Student Government’s discretionary fund to put toward their costs, the exact same amount available to any student group who plans to hold a legitimate event.
Brandon told The Daily Trojan that the organization would fundraise the balance.
He also said YAF was allotting $1,000 of the group’s money from the student government fund to cover the cost of a designated student protest area.
“We’re not trying to squash anyone’s right to protest,” Brandon said. “We’re just trying to make sure that there’s not going to be any violence… [Police are] coming in as a First Amendment protection for both sides.”
DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle told The Daily Trojan that university police would handle most of the security at the event, with a “modest amount” of assistance from uniformed Los Angeles Police Department officers.
“I want to make it clear: DPS is not dissuading or denying anyone the right to demonstrate or protest or express themselves on campus,” Chief Carlisle said. “We expect [our students] to behave responsibly and we don’t anticipate any problems. We’re there in the background, so to speak, to make sure that things remain peaceful.”