Far-right to rally in Berkeley after Coulter talk canceled

Posted April 29, 2017

The conservative commentator was slated to make an appearance Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley - a longtime bastion of free speech that has recently succumbed to violence over controversial speakers.

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Berkeley, known as the home of the free speech movement, was under heavy police watch on Thursday as hundreds of people waving American flags and chanting US gathered in a park to protest a canceled appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. The university realized that the group "wasn't serious and dropped ongoing negotiations over a room", she wrote. "What you've got is free speech that people died for!" said Pirro.

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.

"Before Coulter's cancellation, the university was girding for potentially violent protests on campus on Thursday, when she was expected to give a speech, potentially on Sproul Plaza, a sprawling open area known for gatherings and demonstrations".

The school's latest free-speech controversy came this week when student groups bailed on a planned Thursday speech by right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, who later called the campus of 40,000 students a "radical thuggish institution".

Still, Berkeley student Joseph Pagadara, 19, said he had been anxious about violence and added that the university is caught in the middle of the country's political divide.

An armored police vehicle was also seen patrolling one street on campus and city officers patrolled a park where two far-right groups said they would hold protests.

She added that it was notable that left-wing figures like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had also defended her right to speak at the university, and said - as she put it - 'Oh get over yourselves Berkeley'. Campus officials and police (or any organizing body) may legitimately feel uncertain about their ability to ensure a safe environment for certain speakers. "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". "Now she's making herself look like the victim and Berkeley like the bad guys", he said.

UC Berkeley canceled an event hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans club that was to feature the conservative firebrand.

Berkeley police and UC Berkeley Police say they will be on alert throughout the day for any problems.

Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) announced Wednesday that they were cancelling Coulter's April 27th speech, pointing at U.C. Berkeley officials.

The Proud Boys call themselves Western chauvinists who "refuse to apologize for creating the modern world". He said Berkeley police had reached out to local and state police forces "to let them know we might be calling for assistance".

Campus Republicans invited Coulter to speak at the campus. "It's a sad day for free speech", she told The New York Times.

In response, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said they did not cancel the Coulter event and certainly has not prohibited or banned Coulter from speaking on campus. And it demonstrated that today by taking a stance many of their left-leaning supporters probably won't like: defending Ann Coulter's freedom of speech.

Peters also alluded to the Berkeley riots in early February over the invitation of alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. The group endorses free speech, and some members oppose the way Coulter and others have co-opted the free speech movement.