Coulter's Berkeley speech canceled, police prep for violence

06 May, 2017, 03:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • US colleges confront a new era of sometimes-violent protest

Ann Coulter, the controversial conservative commentator who was invited by a UC Berkeley student group to speak on campus, said Wednesday that she'd called off her planned speech, according to the group and media reports.

Dozens of police wearing flak jackets and carrying 40 mm launchers that shoot "foam batons" flanked the university's main plaza while a small group of protesters condemning Coulter staged one of two earlier rallies outside campus.

He said Wednesday that police would have a "very, very low tolerance for any violence".

"The university know very well what they're doing, they often have these kinds of methods where they try to block conservative or other groups that aren't politically liberal from having speakers", one person told RT.

Protests and demonstrations are expected to take place after a speech by Coulter was canceled Wednesday by the Berkeley College Republicans.

After initially barring her from speaking on campus on Thursday, university officials proposed moving her appearance to next Tuesday.

The university offered her an alternate date and venue for the planned appearance, but Coulter didn't want it, insisting that she'd show up on April 27 like she said she would because it's her way or the high way.

The controversy ballooned into a national debate about the school's reputation as a bastion of free speech, with conservative student groups ultimately filing a lawsuit against the university alleging Berkeley violated their right to free speech.

Coulter has confirmed that her scheduled Thursday speech on illegal immigration, which had prompted threats of violence and unrest, was cancelled but has told Fox News that she might still show up on campus without giving a speech. "I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment".

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The Berkeley College Republicans and Young America's Foundation are suing the university, accusing the school of discriminating against conservative guest speakers by placing onerous time and location restrictions on their appearances.

Police and university officials say they are bracing for possible trouble, citing intelligence and online chatter by groups threatening to instigate violence. "The strategies necessary to address these evolving threats are also evolving, but the simplistic view of some - that our police department can simply step in and stop violent confrontations whenever they occur - ignores reality".

By rescinding an invitation to speak - and subsequently offering an alternative date, when class is not in session, which Coulter declined - Berkeley made Coulter a free-speech martyr.

The Young America's Foundation, a co-plaintiff on the lawsuit, said the university couldn't protect against "unrestrained leftist agitators".

Bay Area Alt Right member John Ramondetta will be among those turning up to hear McInnes and make his position known, telling KTVU that "we won't be shut down, because freedom of speech can't be shut down".

Ms Coulter, whose 2015 book is titled Adios, America!: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, tweeted that free speech had been "crushed by thugs".

Blame: Coulter also blamed Berkeley and the YAF on Twitter. They said they could not provide a safe venue.

A university spokesman says the school values the amendment but the group organizing the speaking engagement didn't follow proper procedure. Campus officials and police (or any organizing body) may legitimately feel uncertain about their ability to ensure a safe environment for certain speakers.

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