Berkeley protests peaceful as hundreds rally over Coulter

by Marta Holmes May 8, 2017, 15:51

Vice founder and conservative provocateur Gavin McInnes vowed in a YouTube video to give the speech at a yet to be announced location in Berkeley.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Coulter said free speech had been "crushed by thugs" and called the canceled speech "a dark day for free speech in America". But there were no major confrontations between Coulter's supporters and opponents, largely because of a significant police presence.

Coulter had publicly floated the idea of making a controversial visit to Berkeley despite the cancellation, but did not show.

This is the statement released by BridgeUSA at Berkeley, the group worked with the Berkeley College Republicans to organize Ann Coulter's appearance on campus.

In recent weeks, protests in the city of Berkeley have led to repeated violent clashes.

Some in the pro-Coulter crowd engaged in a brief shouting match with counter-demonstrators who confronted them on the edge of a Berkeley city park several blocks from campus late in the afternoon, but police managed to keep the two sides apart. "The police did a really good job of keeping everybody separate".

With reinforcements brought in from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol, hundreds of police officers kept watch at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza and at Martin Luther King Jr.

The police said they were limiting access to one of the university's main plazas and searching individuals for "restricted items" such as "weapons (real and simulated), improvised weapons, tasers, hard plastic/metal/bottles, chains, banners/signs, explosive and incendiary devices".

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"I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment", Coulter said in an email. But she still hinted that she might show up there anyway, telling Fox News, "I think I'm still going to Berkeley, but there will be no speech".

CBS may have moved on, but they barely covered the anti-free speech riots, to begin with.

Coulter, one America's best-known and most polarizing pundits on the political right, cast blame on conservative student organizers who withdrew their invitation following their dispute with university officials. Another group called the Orange County Alt Right Group planned a rally in the same place. University officials said they had been unable to find a suitable and safe spot for her to speak, and offered a May 2 date.

The excerpt from Ms. Coulter's speech argued against accepting Muslim immigrants and those in need of government assistance. "What we saw was people in the park speaking out, there were lots of discussions and debates that happened, and that's what we wanted to facilitate".

It became national news this week when Ann Coulter canceled an appearance at the University of California Berkeley, after student groups sponsoring the event pulled their support amid rising tensions and an inability to secure a venue on campus. Campus officials say, well, that violence was perpetrated by outside groups and not students.

In February, violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who like Coulter was invited by campus Republicans.

Earlier this month, a bloody brawl broke out in downtown Berkeley at a pro-Trump protest that featured speeches by members of a self-described white nationalist group.

Lauren Southern, a Canadian speaker, referred to the clashes with other protesters as "battles" between her supporters, who called themselves "Patriots" and groups like Antifa.


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