UC Berkeley cancels Ann Coulter speech; she says she will do it anyway


Reuters

April 20 (Reuters) - Conservative commentator Ann Coulter
says she will proceed with an anti-immigration lecture next week
at the University of California, Berkeley, although school
officials have told organizers to cancel the event over safety
concerns.
    The April 27 lecture had raised the prospect of a repeat of
violent protests that broke out on the Berkeley campus in
February, when left-wing demonstrators successfully prevented
Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing writer, from giving a speech.
    "What are they going to do? Arrest me?" Coulter said in a
Fox News interview late on Wednesday. "I'm definitely giving the
speech."
    Coulter, one of the country's best-known conservative
pundits, plans to speak about her 2015 book, "¡Adios, America!:
The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World
Hellhole."
    Coulter views immigration-friendly policies as part of a
left-wing plot to create more Democratic voters in the long
term, and her book is sharply critical of illegal immigration,
particularly from Mexico.
    The Young America's Foundation, one of three conservative
groups organizing the lecture, castigated what it said was an
attempt by a taxpayer-funded university to suppress free speech.
    "This is as clear-cut a case as it gets that public
universities are using taxpayer dollars to shut down
conservative speech, while allowing liberal speech only,"
Spencer Brown, a director at the foundation, wrote in an article
about the episode on the foundation's website.
    The university said it was trying to reschedule the event
for September, and that its decision had been motivated by
safety, not ideology.
    "We believe in unqualified support to the First Amendment,"
Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof told the Washington Post,
referring to the part of the U.S. Constitution that protects
free speech. "But we also have an unqualified focus on safety of
our students."
    Berkeley is known as the birthplace of the student-led Free
Speech Movement of the 1960s. As with other schools, it has had
to juggle in recent months between student opposition to what
some describe as "hate speech," ideological openness and student
safety.
    In recent months, several conservative speakers have been
met with disruptive, sometimes violent protests when invited to
speak at universities with liberal-leaning student bodies.
    Black-clad protesters set fires and smashed windows as they
shut down Yiannopoulos' lecture at Berkeley in February.
Republican President Donald Trump, who had taken office just
days earlier, threatened to cut off funding to the school.
[nL1N1FN042]
    On Tuesday, police arrested at least three people protesting
an appearance at Alabama'sAuburn University by Richard Spencer,
a prominent white nationalist.

 (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and
Frances Kerry)
 ((jonathan.allen@reuters.com; +1 646 223 5371; Reuters
Messaging: jonathan.allen.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: CALIFORNIA COULTER/



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