Reporting by: Tanvi Varma
Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro visited USC's campus on Friday as part of a talk series that has made him a point of contention for some, and admiration for others.
The demonstrators, who were not just USC students, chanted phrases like "no justice, no peace, no racist police" as they walked from the Von Kleinsmid Center to Tommy Trojan. Some were holding signs that read, "no to Shapiro, no to bigotry," while others inscribed, "racism sexism and bigotry not welcome."
Though Tommy Trojan wasn't an area protesters were permitted to demonstrate, they were not reprimanded. Over 100 people were present at the event, which was scheduled on Facebook and titled "Say NO to Shapiro!"
Chief of Department of Public Safety (DPS) John Thomas said that DPS deployed 30 officers in total, which is considered maximum deployment. DPS has had maximum deployment for speakers like President Barrack Obama and First Lady Hillary Clinton, said Thomas.
"We had no additional LAPD resources as you can see on scene, but we had them available and ready should they be required, and that's standard protocol for any protest in the city of Los Angeles," he said.
Protestor Kameron Hertz from the Answer Coalition spoke to demonstrators about the pain Shapiro's words have caused him.
"When he says that black people, we are behind in society not because of racism not because of structural oppression that has lasted for centuries but because our culture is backwards, is that racist?" he said.
Hertz also questioned the purpose of the extra security outside of the event.
"They say that they're here for our protection – it's clear that that's not true," he said. "Their goal is to make sure that this event goes on safely, not for the protection of all of us."
Using a megaphone, Hertz proceeded to lead the crowd in chants of, "racist go home."
The standby line started at 11a.m on Friday morning and grew to be hundreds of people long by the afternoon.
The friction in the air was palpable to LA resident Daniel Gonsalez, who was waiting in the standby line to see Shapiro three hours before the event started.
"I'm sitting here and I see people giving me the stink eye, which I don't understand," said Gonzales. "I'm just sitting here, I think this should be a platform for discussion instead of separation."
Many who attended the event were hesitant to talk to the press. The press passes that the Young Americans for Freedom handed out to reporters said, "please refrain from fake news."
"It's evident that the conservative portion could be a minority, could be a majority but it's probably pretty silent," said USC student Brett Hartmann. "I think it's fascinating to sit in the general admission line and see that there's an actually a legitimate presence here that has come out for such an event."
DPS officers were not just stationed outside of Bovard auditorium but also inside. There was a line of officers surrounding the doors to the auditorium, a protocol that is not standard for all Bovard events.
There was also additional Contemporary Services Corporation, or CSC, security inside and outside of Bovard.
The auditorium was at full capacity. Many people at the event were wearing politically charged apparel and accessories – some donning "Make America Great Again" hats.
As soon as Shapiro took the stage the audience burst in cheers and applause.
Many in the crowd made their approval known by cheering Shapiro's various statements on gender, abortion and race.
Shapiro started the night by discussing his views on the differences between leftists and conservatives. The crowd vigorously cheered and applauded after he said that all of the protesters had a right to protest, even people from the "93 genders" that now exist.
"A lot of Trojans don't necessarily have a soft spot for me..apparently I'm a racist, a bigot and a homophobe" Shapiro said in response to the protests.
Throughout the night he argued that he is not a xenophobe because though he may not believe in certain principles, he believes that people have the right to do what they want with their lives, so long as it doesn't infringe upon other people's rights.
He spoke about the Kavanaugh hearings and how he thought that Kavanaugh is being unfairly treated because he is a white man. He said that women don't always tell the truth, and that assuming so is discriminating against men.
He added that democrats are treating Kavanaugh unfairly in the trial, not because they feel that he is truly guilty, but because they don't want to lose the right to abortions on the supreme court.
At the end of the event, Shapiro welcomed questions from people that oppose his views. Everyone that disagreed with him was allowed to go to the front of the line and ask him questions.
USC student Brandon Gunning said that though he was hurt by some of the comments Shapiro has made about the black community, he wanted to hear what he had to say.
"I don't agree with what he says, but I just want to hear the other side and have a discussion about it really," he said. "I think it's great that people are able to peacefully protest outside of the venue."
USC student Yorgo Tzoytzoyrakos said he supported parts of what Shapiro said, but not all of it.
"What he had to say was of substance in a lot areas," he said. "I felt that it was a bit odd that everybody was cheering at the most obvious comments, they would cheer for anything he had to say."
Tzoytzoyrakos also disagreed with Shapiro's stance on the Kavanaugh trial. "We do actually need to hear (sexual assault victims) and give them a shot more than just assuming that they're incorrect," he said.
This is not the first time Shapiro spoke at USC. He also came in 2015 as part of another college tour.
Shapiro's next stop will be at the University at Buffalo on October 8th.