UC Berkeley cancels talk by right-wing commentator
Los Angeles (AFP) – The University of California at Berkeley has cancelled a talk by right-wing commentator Ann Coulter for fear it could turn violent, days after opponents and supporters of President Donald Trump clashed in the city.
The decision echoed a similar cancellation in February of a planned speech at the university by a right-wing provocateur and former Brietbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, following violent protests.
A spokesman for the university told AFP the school’s College Republicans were informed late Tuesday that the April 27 event with Coulter had to be scrapped as the safety of the firebrand conservative commentator and the public could not be assured.
“Unfortunately, (campus police) determined that, given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully,” according to a letter sent to the student group.
University spokesman Dan Mogulof said concern about security during the event mounted last week after posters appeared on the walls of campus buildings threatening disruptions.
He added that new “targeted threats” on two websites had also been discovered.
Last weekend, Berkeley was the scene of fights between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators. At least 21 people were arrested according to The Los Angeles Times.
Mogulof said campus police had learned that some of the groups that took part in those clashes “planned to target the appearance of Ann Coulter on campus.”
The recent unrest has put the spotlight on the university, known as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s.
The Washington Post quoted Coulter as saying that the university had tried to pressure her to cancel her speech by “imposing ridiculous demands” and that she had agreed to all their “silly” requirements.
She told the paper that her speech was to focus on immigration, the subject of one of her books.
“They just up and announced that I was prohibited from speaking anyway,” she was quoted as saying. “I feel like the Constitution is important and that taxpayer-supported universities should not be using public funds to violate American citizens’ constitutional rights.”
Mogulof said the university hoped to be able to reschedule Coulter’s appearance sometime in September, after identifying an appropriate venue and working out security arrangements.