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California Lawmakers Weigh Free Speech, Public Safety

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers listened and asked questions but offered no concrete solutions in the first of several legislative hearings planned to discuss how to balance free speech rights with public safety. Tuesday’s hearing arose after violent clash between white supremacist and anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon called for senators to look into potential legislation. Organizations representing minorities and marginalized groups told senators that hate crimes are increasing, and many go unreported. Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood says his agency has been forced to adapt as the college town has become the epicenter for clashes between supporters of controversial right-wing speakers and left-wing “anti-fascist” demonstrators. Conservative writer Ben Shapiro told senators they must protect speech even if they disagree with the message.