Berkeley police prep for clash with or without Ann Coulter visit

Brunilde Fioravanti
Aprile 28, 2017

"Let's show them. what freedom of speech means to the right", she said.

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, but she told Fox News's Tucker Carlson after the event that she wasn't going to say anything more inflammatory than calling for enforcement of immigration laws.

"I have no sponsor, no lawyer, no court order", she said.

It's true that in recent months, protests on or near this bucolic campus have turned violent.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín released a joint statement Thursday, saying they tried to find a way to ensure safety in the wake of Coulter's speech, but ultimately heeded the advice of city police who did not believe the event would be "protectable".

They cited "very specific intelligence" of threats that could endanger Coulter and students, as Berkeley becomes a platform for extremist protesters on both sides of the political spectrum. He wore a Trump-Pence Infowars shirt, an American flag bandanna and a motorcycle helmet with goggles.

On Wednesday, the author and speaker said she was forced to cancel her speaking event on campus which she planned to hold in defiance of university officials.

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.

I suppose we should not be all that surprised over the campus uprisings happening across the country.

He said the university was deferring to the police assessment of a significant security threat, adding that "we can not allow it to be held in a venue with a limited number of exits; in a hall that can not be cordoned off; in an auditorium with floor to ceiling glass; in any space that does not meet basic safety criteria established by UCPD". The group endorses free speech, and some members oppose the way Coulter and others have co-opted the free speech movement. She said she might still make an appearance.

Berkeley police were already on patrol at the park Thursday morning.

Gavin McInnes, founder of the pro-Trump "Proud Boys", says he will speak at 2 Berkeley's Civic Center Park and is encouraging other alt-right groups to make a large showing at the gathering.

Earlier, police mobilized on motorbikes, in armored trucks and on foot for possible violence at the rallies over Coulter's canceled appearance at the university. He said America doesn't have an obligation to take people from other countries.

On its Facebook page, the group calls itself a fraternal organization aimed at "reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism during an age of globalism and multiculturalism". 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.

"I don't like Ann Coulter's views, but I don't think in this case the right move was to shut her down", graduate student Yevgeniy Melguy told the Associated Press, who held a sign that read "Immigrants Are Welcome Here".

Hundreds of police patrolled UC Berkeley and a downtown park as counter demonstrations began Thursday after Ann Coulter canceled a speech on campus.

But a university spokesman said organizers of the speech didn't follow proper protocol and that the speech was never formally scheduled.

The street artist is also attacking Berkeley police and administrators for what he perceives as their inability to protect free speech.

The result has been such toxicity on college campuses that even conservatives acknowledge it is causing their side to dig in irrationally, growing intractable even when the speaker is someone like Mr. Yiannopoulos, who has defended pederasty, or Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and self-appointed leader of the fringe alt-right movement.

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