The conservative commentator Ann Coulter has canceled her planned speech on Thursday at the University of California at Berkeley following a legal back and forth and threats of violence in the past week, reports Reuters.
Ms. Coulter earlier told The New York Times that she might have to cancel her talk because of safety concerns. “It’s a sad day for free speech,” Ms. Coulter told the newspaper.
Her cancellation is likely to bring an end to days of speculation that her presence on the Berkeley campus could spark riots similar to the ones that greeted Milo Yiannopoulos in February.
Citing safety concerns, university officials initially said they couldn’t host Ms. Coulter on April 27, the date originally scheduled by the Berkeley College Republicans, which planned to host the talk. Instead the university offered her a May 2 speaking date. Ms. Coulter rejected the changes, and instead said she would speak on April 27, as originally planned.
But Ms. Coulter’s decision to cancel came after the sponsoring groups appeared to withdraw their support of the event. In a statement signed by the Young America’s Foundation and the executive board of the Berkeley College Republicans, the organizations said the university had failed to provide “assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from unrestrained leftist agitators.”
“Ms. Coulter may still choose to speak in some form on campus, but Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students,” they also wrote.
Before Ms. Coulter’s latest announcement, Berkeley’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, had sent out a campus message on Wednesday morning saying the university was committed to free speech and the safety of the campus community. And he wrote that the reason Ms. Coulter’s speech had been canceled for the 27th stemmed from the lack of a safe venue for the speaker. (He made similar comments in an interview with The Chronicle on Tuesday.)
“This is a university, not a battlefield,” Mr. Dirks wrote. “We must make every effort to hold events at a time and location that maximizes the chances that First Amendment rights can be successfully exercised and that community members can be protected.”
Mr. Dirks said the university would also “remain ready to welcome her to campus, and assume the risks, challenges, and expenses that will attend her visit.”