Coulter to speak at public Berkeley plaza, prompting concerns about protests

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Conservative pundit Ann Coulter will reportedly give a speech at a public plaza at the University of California, Berkeley, on Thursday, sparking concerns about massive protests that could cause safety hazards.

Coulter will speak at Sproul Plaza, according to The Washington Post, the legendary site of the 1960s free speech movement, an area that is open to the public.

Berkeley’s chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, told the Post that the school is worried about not being able to screen attendees for weapons.

If the event were inside, the university could use metal detectors and otherwise search for weapons, Dirks said.

“In an open space, you have almost no control over that,” he added, according to the Post report. “The challenges are immense.”

The Post indicated that the school is readying police for the event.

{mosads}Coulter has repeatedly insisted she will speak on Thursday despite Berkeley initially canceling the event over safety concerns. Berkeley attempted to move the event date to May 2, but Coulter rejected the proposed change.

“Nice day for an outdoor speech at Berkeley,” Coulter tweeted Monday, sharing a Thursday weather report for the area.

On Monday, the students who initially invited Coulter to speak filed a lawsuit against the school.

The suit accuses “university administrators and campus police” of “repressive actions” to stifle free speech.

Berkeley’s concerns for safety follow massive protests that erupted on campus in February, after the same college Republicans group that invited Coulter brought right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the university.

A Berkeley student who is a member of the student group that invited Coulter told the Post that he shares the school’s concerns for safety, and they are hoping to find an off-campus space for the talk.

He said Coulter has still insisted she will speak at the public plaza.

“We’re worried about it turning into a huge battle between her security and conservative militia and anti-fascists and others,” student Pranav Jandhyala told the Post. “To have that right in middle of Sproul doesn’t bode well for the image of our school or the city. We’re worried about violence and student safety and our own safety as well. It’s a huge safety concern.”

Coulter tweeted later Tuesday that she has not indicated details about where and when she will speak on Thursday, adding that she’s “waiting for Berkeley to tell me.” 

— Updated 11:10 p.m.


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