Provocative commentator Ben Shapiro told a crowd at the University of Utah that he thinks it’s pathetic college campuses have to beef up security when conservatives come to speak. Shapiro’s lecture took place amid heightened political tensions on campuses across the country.
Shapiro took the stage Wednesday night to a standing ovation of about 400 people.
The controversial editor of the website The Daily Wire and former Breitbart News alum blamed what he called "radical groups" for creating a tense environment for conservative speakers.
“And it’s pathetic that we actually need to have that on a college campus,” he said. “That we need to have scores of police officers protecting us from people who might get violent.”
The audience was made up of mostly young, white men who laughed and applauded throughout Shapiro’s rapid-delivery lecture.
The mood was a little different outside the lecture hall, where protesters chanted, "It is right to rebel, Ben Shapiro go to hell."
A group of several hundred students marched from the president’s office to the venue before his speech began. Many held signs for groups and issues that Shapiro has ridiculed, such as “Black Lives Matter” and LGBTQ advocates.
Police blocked off most of the sidewalk surrounding the building. A long line of officers stood close watch over student demonstrations, which remained peaceful.
Kathy Tran, a masters history student, said given the political climate, she wishes the U hadn’t given Shapiro a venue.
"If the students don't feel safe, and they have expressed this to the administration, then obviously I really don't think he should've be on this campus," she said. “Because I want students to be safe as possible and to feel that they can be who they are."
Campus officials said only one person was arrested. Three others were detained after a small fight and later released.
— Julia Ritchey (@juliaritchey) September 28, 2017