Berkeley Blinks, Reinvites Ann Coulter to Speak Next Month

University had canceled speech over fears of violent protests like the ones that scuttled appearance by fellow conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos

Getty Images

Yes, then no, and now it’s yes again.

The University of California at Berkeley, which has been rocked by two violent protests recently, announced Thursday that it had reversed its earlier decision to cancel conservative speaker Ann Coulter’s April 27 appearance and now will allow her to speak at the school on May 2.

The battle over Coulter’s speech is not over, however.

Coulter and a conservative national group that helped organize the event, Young America’s Foundation, said Coulter still plans to appear at Berkeley on April 27, the Washington Post reported.

“If Berkeley wants to have free speech, they are going to get it,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said.

Berkeley first saw violence in February when right-wing provocateur and then-Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at the school. The school canceled Yiannopoulos’s talk moments before it was to begin after some masked protesters hurled rocks and molotov cocktails and attacked members of the crowd.

President Trump criticized the school in February for its decision to cancel the Yiannopoulos talk and tweeted a threat to yank federal funds from Berkeley.

Berkeley has been criticized for canceling the two speakers despite the campus’s historic role as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Coulter said in an email to The Washington Post on Wednesday that she believes that her April 27 speech had “been unconstitutionally banned” by the “public, taxpayer-supported UC-Berkeley.”

In another violent outburst, anti- and pro-Trump protestors clashed in Berkeley on Saturday.

The university said it had initially canceled Coulter’s April speech to guard against further violence and to protect Coulter. “Everything we’re doing is so the speaker and students can actually exercise their rights without disruption,” Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said. “It’s unfortunate that there are people who think the university’s efforts to keep students and the speaker herself safe are ‘silly.’ ”

The decision to cancel Coulter’s speech came drew sharp criticism from some on the campus, such as Robert Reich, a Berkeley professor who served as labor secretary under President Bill Clinton.

“This is a grave mistake,” Reich said in a Facebook post. He said universities should “do everything possible to foster and protect” free speech, writing that students should be allowed to hear Coulter’s arguments and question them.