On Wednesday, Ann Coulter informed The New York Times that she would pull out of speaking at the University of California, Berkeley because threats of violence have been made and she wasn’t confident that local law enforcement could guarantee her safety.
Coulter told the Times, “It’s a sad day for free speech … Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.”
Coulter’s perspective was echoed by Young America’s Foundation, which was sponsoring her speech and had joined Coulter in her efforts to force Berkeley to stop placing restrictions on Coulter’s initially scheduled event. YAF and the Berkeley College Republicans filed a lawsuit against UC Berkeley and some of its officials, citing the university’s “discriminatory application of a policy to restrict conservative speech on the UC Berkeley campus.”
YAF stated on Tuesday:
When Young America’s Foundation confirmed Ann Coulter would speak at UC-Berkeley as part of YAF’s nationwide campus lecture program on April 27, we assumed UC Berkeley would take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of students attending the educational event.
In the meantime we discovered that the University of California Police Department at Berkeley has an official “stand-down” policy for any situation that develops on campus as long as the situation doesn’t involve the imminent loss of life, allowing the leftist thugs who have terrorized Berkeley’s campus to do so without consequence.
In order to ensure safety of those involved and for the lecture to go forward, Young America’s Foundation requested that Berkeley adhere to the following equal access terms for the event:
- Central location on the main campus
- Room holding hundreds of participants
- Afternoon/early evening timing
- Ability to publicize event
- University to announce that there will be zero tolerance at the event itself for masked agitators, disruption of the event; and sufficient security to ensure the safety of attendees; space for protest to be cordoned a reasonable and constitutionally permissible distance from event
- University to confirm that it has communicated the event details to Berkeley City Police, and are coordinating security with them to ensure that any rioters/violent protestors/masked disruptors are appropriately contained and dealt with
As of 4:00 p.m. today, UC-Berkeley failed to meet our demands, after refusing to provide a proper venue for six weeks. Berkeley made it impossible to hold a lecture due to the lack of assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from unrestrained leftist agitators.
Berkeley should be ashamed for creating this hostile atmosphere.
YAF is pressing forward with its lawsuit against UC-Berkeley, and looks forward to the day when First Amendment freedoms are enjoyed by conservative students.
Ms. Coulter may still choose to speak in some form on campus, but Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.
On Tuesday, speaking of Coulter’s scheduled event taking place in Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks had admitted, “If somebody brings weapons, there’s no way to block off the site, or to screen them. In an open space, you have almost no control over that. The challenges are immense.”
Coulter had told UC Berkeley student groups on Tuesday that she intended to speak on campus Thursday.