Coulter's Berkeley speech canceled, police prep for violence

Posted May 06, 2017

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said she had scrapped plans to speak on Thursday at the University of California at Berkeley in defiance of campus officials, who had barred her original engagement this week out of concerns about inciting violent protests.

University of California Police department Captain Alex Yao said at the conference the school had received credible threats that could have affected the safety and security of people on campus, but declined to go into detail.

Berkeley has become a flashpoint for free speech debate and the site of multiple protests since the election that have at times become increasingly violent, pitting far-right fascist groups and supporters of President Donald Trump and anti-fascist groups and local liberal activists.

"After the university originally canceled her speech for Thursday and instead invited her to speak there next week, Coulter had vowed to speak anyway; with the university not offering a venue, campus Republican groups had been discussing her possibly appearing on a public plaza, where security would have been challenging", reported The Washington Post. College Republicans President Troy Worden said he would pursue the litigation. University officials, in a news conference on Wednesday, said they were still preparing for protests at the school, despite the speech being called off.

Ann Coulter says she won't be speaking at UC Berkeley on Thursday after all.

Multiple university officials said they supported her right to free speech and welcomed her to campus, but needed to guarantee safety to their students amid threats of violence surrounding the event. "Everything we have done to date is about facilitating and supporting our student group in trying to make it possible for Ms. Coulter to exercise her First Amendment rights".

The Berkeley College Republicans and Young America's Foundation have filed a lawsuit against the university, accusing the school of censorship and discriminating against conservative guest speakers.

They said Berkeley failed to ensure protection of their conservative speakers.

As for Coulter, Pagadara said the university should have let her speak. She told Florida-based radio station 850 WFTL on Wednesday, "I still wanted to do it but I'm running out of options here".

Dan Mogulof, a Berkeley spokesman, wrote in an email that the university had "heard nothing" from Coulter or the sponsors.

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While announcing the decision not to file charge is unusual for his office, Amundson wanted to address public concerns head on. The mass arrests led to federal lawsuits accusing police of using excessive force and violating protesters' civil rights.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered near the campus and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters.

He said police were taking necessary steps to protect the campus.

This follows the university's request asking Coulter to postpone her speech until May 2, when it could offer greater safety.

Young America's Foundation, one of the groups that planned the visit, said Tuesday that it was pulling out of organizing the event and blamed Berkeley for failing to provide a secure space.

Coulter's frustration is understandable, but there was virtually zero chance that she would have been able to lead the kind of productive, interactive session she had envisioned. The virulently leftist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) even released a statement denouncing the behavior of ANTIFA and other extreme left-wing groups at war against free speech.

They say intelligence and online chatter by groups threatening to instigate violence over the acid-tongued Coulter has them on edge.

"Ann herself is using this a little to her advantage - to engage in the test of free speech", said Pranav Jandhyala.

"This is a university, not a battlefield", he added.

Texas A&M University has begun requiring that speakers be sponsored by a student, faculty or staff organization after a former student arranged a speech by Spencer in December.