Update: April 21, 3:30 p.m.: – UC Berkeley has rejected the arguments of a lawyer hired by the Berkeley College Republicans that the university is denying them their First Amendment rights by refusing to designate a space that Ann Coulter can talk on April 27. A letter by Christopher M Patti, UC Berkeley’s chief counsel, ignores the demand of the attorney, Harmeet K. Dillion, that Cal provide the name of the space by 5:00 p.m.
Read the letter here.Update: 10 p.m. Ann Coulter announced on Twitter and Fox News this evening that she cannot come to UC Berkeley on May 2, but plans to speak on April 27, the date her talk was originally scheduled.
“I don’t happen to be available May 2,” Coulter told Sean Hannity.
She then questioned the university’s explanation that they had changed the date of her speech to ensure her safety and said it was a calculated attempt to silence a conservative speaker. Officials had said they were concerned about protecting her safety
“None of this had to do with security,” Coulter said.
If UC Berkeley wants to ensure free speech, Coulter said, they should alert all students that they will be expelled if they are violent or disruptive at her talk. She then chastised the Berkeley police chief for his approach to three disruptive rallies that have happened since Feb. 1 – even though it was UC Berkeley police that oversaw the security at the Milo Yiannapoulous demonstration.
To ensure Free Speech, “have a little talk with the Berkeley Chief of Police who is allowing these Rodney King riots to go on whenever a conservative speaker is speaking,” said Coulter. “It’s anarchy when you are only enforcing the law in order to allow liberals to speak. But, no, we’ll let these masked rioters show up with weapons and start — I mean, they are all little beta males but with a weapon, even a beta male can do some damage, especially to a 99-pound girl.”
A law firm that was hired by College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation, the groups sponsoring Coulter’s talk, has said the offer of a May 2 date is a violation of their clients’ First Amendment rights. If the university does not identify a location for an April 27 venue by 5 p.m. on Friday, the attorney, Harmeet K. Dillion, will seek injunctive relief in federal court, she wrote in a letter delivered to Stephen Sutton, the interim vice chancellor for student affairs.
Another factor in Coulter’s decision to stick to the original April 27 date is that the May 2 date is in the middle of Dead Week, where students prepare for final exams.
In addition to facts: We’ve already spent $ for 4/27 Berkeley spc & I can’t do May 2…THERE ARE NO CLASSES AT BERKELEY THE WEEK OF MAY 2!!! — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) April 21, 2017
If Coulter does come April 27, it is unclear where she will speak as the university has said no venues are available.
Original story, 1:20 p.m. UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon that Ann Coulter will be permitted to speak on the campus after all.
Reversing a decision made just days earlier to cancel her appearance – and after having received widespread criticism that the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement seemed to be blocking free speech – Dirks announced that a suitably safe venue had been found. University officials had cited safety issues as the reason for not permitting Coulter on campus.
However, Coulter will now talk May 2 rather than the original date of April 27.
“This university has an unwavering commitment to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines and protects the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression,” Dirks said at the press conference. “As the home of the Free Speech Movement, we fully support the right and ability of our students to host speakers of their choice, and we believe that exposing students to a diverse array of perspectives is an inherent and inseparable part of our educational mission.”
But the question of whether Coulter will come to Berkeley May 2 is undecided. Pranav Jandhyala, founder of BridgeUSA, one of the campus groups that invited Coulter to UC Berkeley, said the university’s restrictions for the rescheduled event put the organizers “in a tight bind.”
“They mandated a specific date with no flexibility, and they mandated a two-hour window, from 1-3 p.m.,” he said. BridgeUSA and its co-organizers, the Berkeley College Republicans, have not yet heard whether Coulter can come then.
Coulter, however, indicated on Twitter that she intends to come.
The university will not announce the location of her talk until closer to the event.
Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman, told Berkeleyside recently that there are only six venues on campus that are large enough and with enough safety exits to accommodate a controversial speaker. This new venue is one the university has never used in this capacity before but it is “a protectable venue.”
Dirks pushed UC officials to keep looking for a new space after he learned that Coulter had vowed to come to Berkeley even though her April 27 talk had been canceled. Dirks was concerned Coulter would just show up in the middle of campus, making it difficult to protect the safety of students. So Dirks directed staff to keep searching for a suitable venue – and his push resulted in the May 2 date.
“Given our serious reservations and concerns regarding Ms. Coulter’s stated intentions, last night I asked my staff to look beyond the usual venues we use for large public gatherings to see if there might be a protectable space for this event that would be available during the compressed, and extremely busy, window of time between now and the end of the academic year,” said Dirks.
“Fortunately, that expanded search identified an appropriate, protectable venue that is available on the afternoon of May 2. While it is not one we have used for these sorts of events in the past, it can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by our police department. Earlier today, we informed both the Berkeley College Republicans and the Coulter organization of this development, and we look forward to working with them. We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations.”
Twice recently controversial speaking events have been canceled at UC Berkeley. On Feb. 1, campus officials canceled Milo Yiannapulous’ appearance — where he was reportedly set to out the identities of undocumented students — after Antifa protesters arrived on the scene, hitting people with sticks, setting a portable generator on fire and vandalizing banks and the Starbucks downtown. That cancellation prompted two far-right free speech demonstrations in Berkeley that resulted in violent confrontations.
The College Republicans also canceled a talk by David Horowitz, citing the university’s strict regulations.
UC police learned a lot after the Yiannapolous demonstration and will apply that knowledge to how they prepare for Coulter’s talk, said Mogulof, who declined to provide details of the changes for safety reasons.
Hours after the university’s new decision was announced, groups on the right announced their intention to come May 2 to support Coulter. Members of the Proud Boys, a group founded by conservative media pundit Gavin McInnes in 2016 and who was at the violent rally in Berkeley on April 15, appeared ready to rumble.
Others seem to agree.