BERKELEY (CBS SF) — A day after canceling a speech by conservative pundit Ann Coulter for what it said were safety reasons, University of California at Berkeley officials said they will allow her to speak on campus after all.
BridgeUSA and Berkeley College Republicans invited Coulter to speak on campus April 27 but, on Wednesday, the university canceled her appearance because it said local police couldn’t guarantee her safety.
However, Coulter said Wednesday night that she still planned to come to the campus on April 27 to speak.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said Thursday that the university is now inviting Coulter to speak on campus on May 2.
In a statement, Dirks claimed that although that several conservative speakers, including David Horowitz and Milo Yiannopolous, have had to cancel their appearances because of safety concerns, “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.”
But he said, “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, “While there may, at times, be a tension between these two paired commitments, we cannot compromise on either.”
He said, “In that context, Ms. Coulter’s announcement that she intends to come to this campus on April 27 without regard for the fact that we don’t have a protectable venue available on that date is of grave concern.”
Dirks said UC Berkeley’s police department “has made it clear that they have very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker, attendees and those who may wish to lawfully protest the event.”
Dirks said, “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.”
He said that expanded search identified “an appropriate, protectable venue that is available on the afternoon of May 2” that can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by campus police.
Dirks said that, earlier Thursday, the university informed the Berkeley College Republicans and the Coulter organization of the new date “and we look forward to working with them.”
He didn’t announce where Coulter will speak, saying only, “We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations.”
Thursday evening, Coulter said on Twitter that she can’t speak on May 2 and still intends to speak at UC Berkeley on April 27.
Berkeley College Republicans didn’t respond to a request for a comment on the university’s announcement.
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