A heavy police presence in Mountain View Tuesday blocked roads for a controversial foreign dignitary.
Police late Tuesday guided drivers around the IFES Portuguese Hall, where Dutch politician Geert Wilders spoke to the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley. Wilders is widely known for his criticism of Islam, and has repeatedly called for the Quran to be banned in the Netherlands.
Wilders is often heavily guarded by private guards, but Mountain View Police were on hand for Tuesday's event. This comes after two gunman fired shots outside an event in Texas earlier this year, where a contest was held to draw the prophet Muhammad. Wilders was a speaker at that event.
At Tuesday’s event, attendees say Wilders spoke about “why the west should stop the spread of Islamic political and cultural influence."
“I thought it was an amazing speech, I think he's a tremendously brave man, and saying what's very plain it's all right in front of our eyes,” San Jose-resident Jane Kearney said.
Wilders left in a heavily guarded small caravan of SUVs. A Mountain View Police spokesperson said their presence was similar to events for other dignitaries or political candidates, and staffing was shifted to offset costs.
Christian Perez lives near the hall, and said the road closure was an inconvenience. He was also unsure of the event’s speaker.
“I think it's great we can actually have forums and discuss topics like this safely, but I don't necessary have to agree with the opinions held,” he said.
Tickets for the event were $20-$40 dollars.