UC Berkeley reverses decision to cancel Ann Coulter visit

 latimes.com  4/20/2017 9:53:59 PM   Veronica Rocha
LA 90: Ann Coulter's UC Berkeley speech

UC Berkeley officials on Thursday reversed their decision to cancel conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s appearance at the university, but have rescheduled it from next week to May 2, according to a statement from the university.

Coulter’s speech on immigration will be held at an “appropriate, protectable venue,” the university said. The university did not disclose the location of the speech. But the university said it had advised Coulter’s representatives and the Berkeley College Republicans, which organized the April 27 Coulter event, that the speaking engagement would take place next month.

“We have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and well-being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of our campus and surrounding communities,” Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in the statement. “While there may, at times, be tension between these paired commitments, we cannot compromise either.”

The reversal comes a day after the university confirmed that it had canceled her speech due to safety concerns following several violent clashes between right- and left-wing protesters in the famously liberal city.

On Wednesday, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said campus police feared that some of the same extremist forces who caused problems during recent clashes would be out in force when Coulter was on campus.

Coulter attacked Berkeley’s decision in a series of tweets, saying “no school accepting public funds can ban free speech.”

University of California officials have been caught between left-wing activists who have tried to shut down appearances by conservative speakers and right-wing figures who have criticized them for allowing disruptive protests. University administrators have argued that their campuses should be able to tolerate the views of even far-right figures. And some in Berkeley charge that the most extreme protesters on both sides are outsiders provoking violence for their ends.

A February scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled amid a violent protest on the campus. That sparked a national debate — in which President Trump took part — about the balance between the right to demonstrate and protecting free speech that some find objectionable.

There have been two other clashes in the city of Berkeley since then, including one Saturday in which 21 people were arrested.

The UC Berkeley campus is known as the home of the Free Speech Movement. That’s one reason conservative activists have used it as a setting for several recent rallies.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA

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