Author and conservative pundit Ann Coulter has vowed to speak in a public space known as Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California, on Thursday. The University of California at Berkeley is preparing to encounter violence and mass protests by opponents of President Trump. Leftist protests have sought to prevent speakers with whom they disagree from appearing on the campus of UC-Berkeley. Clashes between leftists and supporters of free speech have devolved into riots, causing numerous arrests and some hospitalizations of injured persons.
On Monday, Coulter tweeted, “Nice day for an outdoor speech at Berkeley” along with a weather forecast for Thursday’s event.
Sproul Plaza is the site of the famous Free Speech Movement protests of the 1960s. It is an open space and open to anyone, unlike an indoor space where the university can deploy metal detectors and other methods to search for weapons. Officials are concerned that there is no way to screen for weapons. One group of demonstrators, known as the Black Bloc, is known to meld into crowds and use innocent parties as shields.
In February, raucous protesters prevented Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus when the university cancelled his event.
The College Republicans at Berkeley originally invited Coulter to speak on campus on Thursday, but the university canceled the event because of safety concerns. After facing backlash, the university then reversed itself and invited her to speak instead at an indoor location next week.
Coulter rejected the offer and said she still plans to come to the campus on Thursday despite the university’s warnings.
Student groups filed a lawsuit against university officials on Monday. They charge that the university is effectively stifling free speech at the institution, especially for politically conservative students whose views are at odds with the liberal environment there.
Coulter is expected to speak at approximately 4 p.m. on Thursday despite concerns that Antifa groups will grapple with free-speech advocates and supporters of President Trump. The university is reportedly taking extraordinary steps to protect the campus and is coordinating with local and regional law enforcement.
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