Thugs win again: 'Given currently active security threats,' UC Berkeley 'unable to find a safe and suitable venue' for planned Ann Coulter speech [UPDATE: The cancellation was reversed the next day]
[UPDATE: The cancellation has been reversed.]
Ann Coulter's planned appearance at the University of California, Berkeley next week has been called off for security concerns.
UC Berkeley officials say they were "unable to find a safe and suitable" venue for the right-wing provocateur who was invited to speak by campus Republicans on April 27.
In a letter to Berkeley College Republicans sent Tuesday, Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said officials made the decision in consultation with campus police who determined they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event.
"Unfortunately, UCPD determined that, given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully … at any of the campus venues available on April 27th," the letter said.
KQED (Frances Dinkelspiel) has more, including an email that university officials sent stating that UC Berkeley will help plan a future Ann Coulter talk if given "at least four weeks notice":
We understand that earlier this evening our Dean of Students, Joseph Greenwell, informed your leadership that despite extensive efforts on the part of UCPD and the staff within Student Affairs, we have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue for your planned April 27th event featuring Ann Coulter. We therefore must now work together to reschedule her appearance for a later date. We regret this outcome—especially given our unqualified support for our students' right to bring speakers of their choosing to the University, and our deep commitment to the values and principles embedded in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
While Registered Student Organizations like yours are independent from the University, and have the right to invite whoever they'd like to speak here, the campus retains responsibility for ensuring safety and security during such events. This includes the safety and security of invited speakers, of those who attend such events, of our community neighbors, and of those who choose to exercise their own First Amendment rights by lawfully protesting the presence of speakers with whom they disagree. In this context, we greatly appreciate recent public comments by your spokespeople, who have offered full support for increased security measures in and around high-profile events.
As a general matter, the timing of an event, as well the location and nature of the venue, play an important role when it comes to the safety and security of the speaker, attendees, our community neighbors, as well as individuals engaged in lawful protest. In the wake of events surrounding the planned appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos in February, as well as several riots which have occurred in recent weeks in the City of Berkeley, we have increased our scrutiny regarding the time and location of high-profile speakers so that these events can go forward unimpeded. We base our decisions regarding an event's timing and location on the objective analysis of the law enforcement professionals of UCPD as to how best to ensure safety for all while maximizing the chances that the event can take place as planned.
For that reason, when we learned through the newspapers that you had invited Ms. Coulter to speak here on April 27th, we immediately asked UCPD to conduct a comprehensive review of potential sites and security arrangements. Unfortunately, UCPD determined that, given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully—or that the safety of Ms. Coulter, the event sponsors, audience, and bystanders could be adequately protected—at any of the campus venues available on April 27th. One of the primary lessons learned here is that before a student organization commits to hosting an event on a specific date, we need to first work together to determine if a suitable venue is available at that time.
We realize that this is disappointing news, but the good news is that UCPD and Student Affairs remain firmly committed to working with you to find an alternative time and date for Ms. Coulter to come speak here at Berkeley. We expect most Mondays and Tuesdays in September during the day should work, though we will of course need to work through the details. To make this process a success, we will need at least four weeks notice to collaborate on identifying an appropriate venue, time of day, and security arrangements. We are confident that with sufficient lead-time and continued collaboration we can together do what is necessary to offer the broadest possible range of speakers and events on the Berkeley campus.
(Note that the College Republicans say that they did give UC ample notice of their plans.)