Berkeley protests peaceful as hundreds rally over Coulter

Ann Coulter goes Berserkely while pulling plug on UC talk

After multiple violent clashes in recent weeks between fringe groups on the left and right, and thrust into the national spotlight over the Ann Coulter speech controversy, Berkeley readied itself for another potential melee on Thursday.

Coulter's canceled appearance at the University of California, Berkeley brought hundreds to raucously but peacefully celebrate the conservative provocateur.

Young Americans for Freedom and the Berkeley College Republicans filed a lawsuit against the university, arguing the school failed to accommodate the club with a safe venue for the speech, giving them no choice but to cancel it. Many of them came dressed for conflict, wearing flak jackets, ballistic helmets adorned with pro-President Donald Trump stickers and other protective gear.

Let us be clear: blame for the cancellation of Ann Coulter's speech at the UC Berkeley campus does not rest exclusively on the shoulders of any individual.

This is the statement released by BridgeUSA at Berkeley, the group worked with the Berkeley College Republicans to organize Ann Coulter's appearance on campus. Civic Center Park, a city park several blocks from the campus.

In February, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous was slated to speak at Berkeley, but vandalism, fires and demonstrator clashes with police forced event organizers to call it off.

Bell said that he is a proud resident of the "People's Republic of Berkeley, California" and stated a riot that occurred there had disrupted a farmers' market he frequents.

Police said officers confiscated numerous weapons during the course of the day.

But campus police Captain Alex Yao told a news conference late on Wednesday that his department would maintain "a highly visible presence" on Thursday, pointing to continued threats of violent protests.

Neither the university nor the police have disclosed how many officers were involved, but UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said it had backup from a "wide range" of law enforcement agencies.

Coulter said in an email to The Associated Press that she might stroll across campus to greet supporters and "stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment".

You would think someone like Janet Napolitano would understand the concerns of people attempting to exercise their right to free speech.

"We now have a green light on this operation, and we call on you to step up with us and help us once again defend free speech", wrote the group's founder, Stewart Rhodes, in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The free speech rally was mostly peaceful, with protesters and hecklers only sparsely populated in the surrounding area.

"They tried to ban her and we can't allow that". Another group called the Orange County Alt Right Group planned a rally in the same place. "If your free speech leads to hate speech, and it makes people feel unsafe, then universities have the right to protect the kids on campus".

Coulter, one of America's best-known and most provocative pundits on the political right, said on Wednesday she no longer meant to defy university officials by speaking on campus without their permission. Campus officials say, well, that violence was perpetrated by outside groups and not students.

University officials learned of the event being scheduled for April 27 when they read about it in a newspaper, he said. Significant violence never ultimately erupted, and some attendees expressed regret that Coulter never appeared.

Earlier this month, a bloody brawl broke out in downtown Berkeley at a pro-Trump protest that featured speeches by members of the white nationalist right.

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