A “normal” day at Berkeley (you really can’t ever use the word “normal” about Berkeley in the normal way), except for the hundreds of police officers present at Sproul Plaza, which included a large contingent of California Highway Patrol officers with riot gear and plastic handcuffs handy. The heavy CHP presence was the first sign that this time the city and University weren’t going to let things get out of hand. Unlike the law enforcement failure at the Milo riot of February 1, it appears law enforcement was ready to shut down any trouble that arose. Even though Ann Coulter cancelled her schedule appearance here today, there were rumors that she was going to turn up anyway, and the various factions who rumbled in the park nearby a couple weeks ago were spoiling for an encore.
Today was my last class of the semester for my course on the Constitution, and although I had emailed the class that attendance was optional in light of the potential security situation (my lecture hall is very close to Sproul Plaza, and does not have good exits if things went really wrong, which is one reason why, unlike Charles Murray four weeks ago, I didn’t offer to host Ann Coulter in my class as I did with Charles), most everyone turned up, and flattered me with a loud round of applause at the end of class. I’ll admit to using the current contretemps to dramatize the importance of decent constitutionalism, about how hard it is to achieve in the first place, and how easy it is to squander. (Just ask Turkey this week, or Venezuela over the last decade.)
When I arrived on campus at noon, there was already a large crowd gathered ahead a promised protest/clash/riot at 2 pm (when my class let out), but when I strolled down after class, there crowd was gone and the police squads were all relaxing in the shade of a gorgeous and sunny spring day. The media was out in force, doing what they always do when there’s no story in progress: interviewing each other. The protests, such as they were, seemed to be occurring off campus down in a city park, and I had no interest in taking in that scene.
Anyway, a few scenes from today: