Ann Coulter didn't go to Berkeley but these protesters did

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Though Coulter didn't speak, police set up barricades, blocked buildings and were on high alert.

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File). If folks on the left refuse to be tweaked, much of the rationale for booking Coulter would disappear.

The conservative commentator said that the University of California, Berkeley canceled her event.

Coulter had planned a speech Thursday at the campus, but the Berkeley College Republicans canceled it on Wednesday saying the university could not guarantee the event would be safe.

"Now to Berkeley, California where new protests are breaking out tonight a day after conservative pundit Ann Coulter's plan to speak at U.C. Berkeley was abruptly canceled", announced Anchor Lester Holt during NBC Nightly News that same evening. She was not spotted at the rally.

Several hundred people gathered for an afternoon rally supporting Coulter at Martin Luther King, Jr. And that's the same park near downtown Berkeley that has been the site of violent and bloody clashes between the left and the right.

Some at the rally in downtown Berkeley are wearing combat gear, including military grade ballistic helmets and body armor.

President Donald Trump may be the most successful conservative television producer in history, turning his ramblings and the vicious competition reality show that is his West Wing into must-see TV. One man had duct tape reading "Berkeley" over his mouth. Demonstrators from as far away as Orange County, some with flags that read "TRUMP", said they would stand up for free speech.

Berkeley student Joseph Pagadara, 19, said he was anxious about violence and says the university is caught in the middle of the country's political divide.

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Extremists on both sides of the ideological spectrum seem to prepare for violence every time they face off these days, though Thursday's gathering has so far been less violent than some.

"We're here for peace", said David Fry, a resident of Tacoma, Washington, and head of the American Freedom Motorcycle Association. The university had instead offered to let her speak on May 2.

She said Berkeley claims that the threat of violence is what led to the whole debacle, but she's not buying it.

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. In the following months, tensions have done anything but die down.

Rumors that antifa supporters had arrived about 30 minutes into the speeches changed the mood in the crowd, and some attendees took defensive postures near the speakers. "The reason why people's speeches are being canceled is because it's a safety issue". Speakers, likewise, have the right to say whatever they want, but bear the responsibility of owning their words' consequences.

On its Facebook page, McInnes' group calls itself a fraternal organization aimed at "reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism during an age of globalism and multiculturalism". It said it supports minimal government and is also anti-political correctness, anti-racial guilt and pro-gun rights.

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". UC Berkeley officials denied Coulter was unwelcome because of her politics.

It is not clear how much the security cost, but Arreguin said the university footed the bill. But protesters are converging on Berkeley.