BERKELEY (Calif.) — Hundreds of protesters waved American flags and chanted “USA” at a Berkeley park on Thursday to protest Ann Coulter’s cancellation. However, the violence that was expected did not occur.
Numerous officers wearing riot gear gathered in preparation for violence between supporters of Coulter and opponents, but there was no major confrontations due to the absence of anti-fascist members.
Coulter didn’t appear at the rally, nor did she show up at University of California Berkeley, despite hinting at her intention to “swing by and say hello” to her supporters. Coulter claimed that she had to cancel a speaking event at the school. Officials at the university said that they couldn’t find a safe place for Coulter to speak and offered her a May 2 date.
Although she did not immediately reply to a request from The Associated Press for comment, she said that after the event she would not say anything other than to call for enforcement of immigration laws.
She said, “Well, my hateful and seditious speech, the topic of it, obviously it was going to a searingly brilliant address on immigration.”
The tensions on Thursday were yet another example of how Berkeley has become a focal point for extremist left and right forces in the debate over free speech. This is the same place that the 1960s U.S. freedom speech movement originated before spreading to colleges campuses across the country.