Berkeley protests peaceful as hundreds rally over Coulter

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The International Socialist Organization said it planned an "Alt Right Delete" rally about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the right-wing protests and just outside the university campus to show support for free speech and to condemn the views of Coulter and her supporters.

David Cole says hateful speech has consequences especially for people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants and others who have been historically marginalized.

"In effect, our free speech has been stifled because the university has decided not to assist us in making sure the event can occur successfully", Troy Worden, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said in a press conference Wednesday.

Something is clearly amiss on campuses, and especially at public institutions like Berkeley where students and faculty must enjoy and are entitled to the same First Amendment rights and protections that they would off-campus.

Tensions mounted as the rally ended and a group of at least 100 anti-Trump demonstrators emerged to confront a roughly equal number of pro-Trump, pro-Coulter protesters in front of Berkeley High School, adjacent to the park. Correspondent Tom Llamas framed it as sparking a "debate" between "freedom of speech vs the safety of students".

In February, protesters opposed to an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, then a senior editor for the conservative Breitbart News website, set fires, broke windows and clashed with police on campus, prompting the cancellation of his speech. They clashed with a group of Trump critics who called themselves anti-fascists.

Her supporters and some students on the UC Berkeley campus voiced frustration that she hadn't been allowed to speak.

University officials learned of the event being scheduled for April 27 when they read about it in a newspaper, he said.

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Hundreds of far-right protesters, some dressed in goggles, gas masks and knee pads, are rallying in support of conservative speaker Ann Coulter in downtown Berkeley.

A few dozen supporters of President Donald Trump and conservative commentator Ann Coulter converged on a park in downtown Berkeley for a peaceful gathering as two dozen police officers looked on.

Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, the rally's final speaker, read some of the speech Coulter meant to give and called her a hero who was censored and betrayed. "Berkeley students are interested in political discourse", she said. Speaking Wednesday night, Mayor Jesse Arreguín told Mother Jones that conservative pundit Coulter should bear some responsibility if her appearance-or lack thereof-causes violence.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof credited the peacefulness of Thursday's rallies partly to an increased police presence.

Of course, the security fee practice serves as a perverse incentive for those who wish to disrupt or have canceled events by conservatives, since threats of protests and disruptions prior to the event can necessitate the security fees and, often, the eventual cancellation of the event as a result of this penalty-the so-called 'heckler's veto.' If there are legitimate security concerns over potential reactions by protestors to the speaker's words, that is an issue that can addressed through law enforcement, suspensions, or other appropriate punishment for offenders. There were anti-Trump demonstrators on the other side of the street. Despite the still looming threat of riots, both ABC and CBS made a decision to move on from the free speech controversy. Also, city officers patrolled a park where two far-right groups said they would hold protests. They cited "very specific intelligence" of threats that could endanger Coulter and students.

"I think Ann Coulter has a right to speak here".

Shutting down speech is not only unconstitutional, it violates one of the university's primary values. They offered the college Republicans, who had invited Coulter, a different date and venue for the speech, but were turned down.

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