Protesters surrounded a University of California at Berkeley auditorium on Wednesday evening in an attempt to disrupt a speaking engagement by conservative author Ann Coulter.
Organizers estimated that thousands of people turned out to protest. At least seven people were arrested. University spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that he did not know what the protesters were arrested for as of about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
One of the protesters was arrested inside the event. Atlas Winfrey, an organizer with Refuse Fascism, said that protester arrested inside the event, only identified as a woman, was with his group. He said she spoke out twice during the event, saying that she was opposed to misogyny and racism and demanding the removal of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from office.
“(Coulter) wants to build a wall; we want to welcome in immigrants.”
Winfrey said that some ideas that Coulter disseminates, such as that white people are being replaced by racial minorities, have origins in fascist ideology.
“People are recognizing that Ann Coulter is a fascist and recognizing the connection between her and the people who are in the White House.”
The event was organized by the Berkeley College Republicans, a campus group that sponsored a series of public speaking events in 2017 that led to controversy.
The group invited far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to speak, but it was violently shut down. Coulter was scheduled to speak later that year, but did not amid concerns about safety.
On Wednesday the protesters started gathering outside Wheeler Hall at about 7 p.m., where the event was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
The demonstrators chanted:
“Ann Coulter out of the Bay, immigrants are here to stay.”
While they attempted to prevent people from entering the auditorium, the protesters vowed to remain non-violent, though there was instances when shoving broke out between the counter-protesters and people attending the event.
The protesters swarmed around orange barricades outside the building, blocking the only entrance and trying to prevent attendees from getting in. Some people attending waded through the hostile crowd looking for a way in, while protesters pointed and yelled:
“Don’t let them in!”
Many did manage to get inside by hopping the barricades with assistance of police. Mogulof could not provide attendance figures as it was not a campus-organized event.
At least one person needed medical assistance. A person suffered an apparent medical issue. A man was carried out from inside the barricades and taken away in a medic cart, but Mogulof did not know if they were the same person.
Protesters stayed outside of the building through the night. When the speech ended, attendees left while guarded by lines of riot police that kept the protesters at bay.
Many of the attendees tried to avoid interacting with the protesters. But some taunted them from behind police lines, including a man in a Make America Great Again hat, who took a selfie with the police and protesters in the background.