Update (April 21): UC-Berkeley officials have reversed their decision to cancel the speech. Read more here.
After riots and violent protests in and around their campus during the past three months, officials at the University of California at Berkeley said Wednesday that the school is canceling a planned speech by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter because of safety concerns.
In a letter to a campus Republican group that invited Coulter to speak, university officials said that they made the decision to cancel Coulter’s appearance after assessing the violence that flared on campus in February, when the same college Republican group invited right-wing provocateur and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.
The violence and protests caused by Yiannopoulos’s invitation garnered national attention and forced officials to put the campus on lockdown. And after the university canceled the Yiannopoulos talk, President Trump criticized the school and threatened in a tweet to pull federal funds from UC-Berkeley.
The decisions by UC-Berkeley to cancel both events involving high-profile Republicans are especially notable given the campus’ role during the 1960s and 1970s as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and its long tradition of social protest.
Coulter said in an email Wednesday that the university had been trying to force her to cancel her speech by “imposing ridiculous demands” on her but that she still agreed “to all of their silly requirements.” She said that she believes her speech “has been unconstitutionally banned” by the “public, taxpayer-supported UC-Berkeley.”
Coulter said the university insisted that her speech take place in the middle of the day, that only students could attend, and that the exact venue wouldn’t be announced until the last minute. She said that she agreed to the conditions.
“They just up and announced that I was prohibited from speaking anyway,” Coulter said, noting that her speech topic was to be immigration, the subject of one of her books. “I feel like the Constitution is important and that taxpayer-supported universities should not be using public funds to violate American citizens’ constitutional rights.”
A conservative national group that was helping to organize the event, Young America’s Foundation, said Coulter also made demands of her own, including that any students engaging in violence be expelled. In her email, Coulter said she is still planning to give her speech at Berkeley on April 27.