UC Berkeley police brace for unrest despite canceled Ann Coulter speech

UC Berkeley police brace for unrest despite canceled Ann Coulter speech

Ann Coulter says she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence, calling it "a dark day for free speech in America".

In February, protesters opposed to an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, then a senior editor for the conservative Breitbart News website, set fires, broke windows and clashed with police on campus, prompting the cancellation of his speech. Four people were arrested - one for obstructing an officer and wearing a mask to evade police, and another for possessing a knife.

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

"I am disappointed that she (Coulter) caved in", Carrie Fleming told Berkeleyside. "Berkeley College Republicans do not want to endanger people's lives so because of the university's unwillingness to do their job we are forced to cancel the event", Troy Worden, president of the campus Republicans, said Wednesday. "I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment".

Berkeley Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California Berkeley campus amid a strong police prese
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Further adding to the tension earlier in the day, Coulter suggested in an email to The Associated Press that she still might appear on campus.

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.

"I think it's clear that having a strong visible police presence was important both in terms of deterrence and law enforcement", he said, noting that even in Coulter's absence hundreds descended on Berkeley.

"L$3 ook man, she's right about the free speech thing, but here's my opinion", he said.

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The principal of Berkeley High School, which is adjacent to the park, announced precautions and asked students and parents to avoid the protest area, according to a letter printed in Berkleyside. Chapman became a hero to some conservatives after a video of him breaking a wooden sign post over the head of a far-left protester at a Berkeley rally went viral.

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. Coulter planned to give a speech on illegal immigration.

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.

Thursday on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", host Trevor Noah made his case for UC-Berkeley to allow conservative commentator Ann Coulter to speak.

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The University of California, Berkeley says it's preparing for possible violence on campus whether Ann Coulter comes to speak or not. Southern said. "They can't stop the history of this nation and the determination to defend free speech and protect God-given rights".

"Many of the individuals and organizations which planned to protest Ann Coulter's appearance or support it still intend to come to campus", a university spokesman said.

Police and university officials have said they were bracing for trouble whether or not she decides to show. "We listen, and try to help people listen".

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

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When BridgeUSA at Berkeley originally learned of conservative campus groups' intention to invite Ann Coulter, we stepped in to mediate better conversation.

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