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Berkeley protester seizes pro-life display and throws it off a bridge

University condemns vandalism against pro-life group

While engaging in peaceful activism on campus recently, a California pro-life group encountered a hostile protester who vandalized its property.

Berkeley Students for Life was hosting Students for Life of America’s spring semester tour on campus at UC Berkeley earlier this month on April 4 when the vandalism occurred. The display featured five large banners highlighting Planned Parenthood’s recent increase in abortion services and its reduction in other services such as cancer screenings, pap tests, and ultrasounds. While the group members were engaged in conversations with several students, a young woman seized part of the display and threw it off a bridge.

Anna Bakh, the northern California regional coordinator of Students for Life of America, said the event had been going very well prior to the incident.

“This girl kind of walked up out of nowhere — she didn’t even hesitate. As she was walking by she grabbed one of the banners and just kept walking for about ten yards. At that point she was on a bridge and she just tossed the banner into the creek below,” Bakh told The College Fix via phone interview.

Bakh said that while the banner fell about 15 feet off the bridge, it was not broken. As the protestor walked away, a member of Berkeley Students for Life attempted to follow and videotape her, but she pushed him away with her skateboard and left the area. “We were unable to get a good picture of who the student was,” Bakh said.

Reached via email, Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university condemns the vandalism, stating that it violated the school’s Principles of Community.

“UC Berkeley has an unwavering commitment to freedom of speech, as well as diversity of beliefs…We strongly condemn violence, vandalism and harassment of any sort, for any reason. That sort of behavior is intolerable,” Mogulof told The College Fix.

Mogulof told The Fix that federal law prohibited him from revealing whether the student who perpetrated the vandalism was identified or would face disciplinary action from the university. Tamika Bassman, the co-president of Berkeley Students for Life, told The Fix that the group did not pursue disciplinary action.

“For us, it’s just not our biggest priority. We only have such little manpower on our team, and it would probably take up a lot of time,” Bassman said. However, Bassman said the group is working to “let people know that this happened” and that they have spoken with the media on several occasions.

Later event generated more protests

Later that day, the pro-life group hosted Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, for her “Lies Feminists Tell” campus tour. At that event, Berkeley Students for Life encountered an organized group of protesters.

“There was a gentleman in the back who was kind of orchestrating the effort and recording them. Every few minutes another women would stand up and approach the stage area with a coat hanger sign…by the end of the speech there were several women up on the stage area with me,” Hawkins told The College Fix.

Hawkins said the protesters gradually inched closer to her as the speech went on. Berkeley Students for Life approached the campus police officer on hand to intervene.

“We did ask the UC Berkeley police to ask them to sit down but they had to wait for backup. The backup arrived eventually. They did position themselves as a barrier between the students with hangers and Kristan to protect Kristan,” Bakh said.

Hawkins told The College Fix that Students for Life of America will be updating its campus vandalism map this week to include recent incidents at UC Berkeley and other schools. Other recent anti-pro-life vandalism incidents include chalk that was washed away at New Mexico State University, flags stolen at The College of New Jersey, and signs stolen at St. Louis University.

MORE: Steep spike seen in vandalism of pro-life campus displays

MORE: Student tears down pro-life display: It ‘really made me angry’

IMAGE: ibreakstock / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Ryan Everson -- Arizona State University