BERKELEY — UC Berkeley officials announced Thursday that conservative author Ann Coulter will appear on campus after all.
A day after the university called off the April 27 appearance because officials said they could not guarantee the safety of the conservative pundit or anyone else in attendance, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement that Coulter has been invited to speak May 2.
The decision sparked initial criticism from Coulter and conservatives, especially after the cancellation of two previous speeches by conservative figures Milo Yiannopoulos on Feb. 1 and conservative writer David Horowitz on April 15. But in his statement, Dirks said the university “has an unwavering commitment to the First Amendment … which enshrines and protects the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”
Coulter, in a post on her Twitter account after 1 p.m., said she had agreed to the university’s conditions “not to call their bluff, but because I wanted to speak.”
She earlier had threatened to show up and speak on April 27 despite the university’s decision. She told host Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show, “What are they going to do? Arrest me?”
Officials did not announce a venue for Coulter’s speech, but university spokesman Dan Mogulof said it would be “somewhere on campus property” and that details will be announced when they are worked out with Coulter and the Berkeley College Republicans, the group that, along with BridgeUSA, invited her.
However, Coulter went to Twitter late Thursday afternoon and said she is coming to Berkeley on April 27 as originally planned.
“I’m speaking at Berkeley on April 27th, as I was invited to and have a contract to do,” she tweeted.
It’s unknown where in Berkeley she will appear and whether it will be on campus.
Mogulof said that university officials were aware of the Twitter statements made by Coulter Thursday.
“What we’re struggling to understand is the level of disdain and disregard for recommendations from law enforcment when it is clear their primary focus is on the safety of college students,” Mogulof said. “We have 36,000 students on this campus, and it would be criminal to ignore what our police force tells us to do to offer them safety. Beyond that, we’re not discussing in any detail, any preparations we’re going to make if she follows through on her unfortunate intentions.”
During a news conference earlier Thursday, UC Berkeley police Capt. Alex Yao said “very specific and credible threats of violence” had been received in connection with the announced Coulter event, and that officials canceled the speech for that reason. Yao said they included threats of violence involving weapons.
“We’ve seen things on this campus that we’ve never seen before,” Mogulof said, referring to recent pro- and anti-Trump rallies and the canceled appearance by Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart News editor. Mogulof mentioned as examples the Black Bloc, whom he described as “highly organized,” and “the Antifa people last Saturday,” who have gotten into violent confrontations with conservative supporters.
Last Saturday, at least 20 people were arrested and several were injured near downtown Berkeley when pro-Trump supporters and other groups of people clashed.
“We also 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,” Dirks said in his statement. “While there may, at times, be a tension between these two paired commitments, we cannot compromise on either.”
Staff writer George Kelly and the Washington Post contributed to this report. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789
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