Many participants at UC Berkeley rallies on Wednesday chanted, “Why are you here?” as members of the conservative group Patriot Prayer joined in the free speech celebration.
Patriot Prayer organizer, Joey Gibson, and several other members of the conservative group were on campus to protect freedom of speech. Wednesday’s calm demonstrations led Gibson to believe it could be an indication that confrontations between opposing groups could fade away.
"We're kind of proving to everyone 'you can come on campus, okay? You'll be protected and there won't be violence,” said Gibson. “So other groups can start coming in here and as long as Berkeley continues to respect the first amendment Patriot Prayer doesn't have to come down here."
The calm atmosphere was quickly disrupted when police officials had to evacuate people from the southwest area of Sproul Plaza where a suspicious package was being investigated.
Officials later revealed the package was unfounded and the area to be safe, not knowing whether the bogus threat was related to the political activity.
“It’s probably someone who’s trying to stop us from happening and just call in a bomb threat,” said Gibson.