Update: Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her planned speech on Thursday at UC Berkeley campus following a dispute with university administration who feared potential violence as a safe venue couldn’t be found.
“There will be no speech,” Coulter wrote to Reuters on Wednesday, claiming two conservative groups who backed her event are no longer supporting her.
“I looked over my shoulder and my allies had joined the other team,” she said.
The University of California, Berkeley is preparing for massive protests and violence after conservative firebrand Ann Coulter dismissed any attempts to delay her event and has insisted on giving a speech there tomrrow.
Berkeley has become the center of free speech wars in America, where conservatives face hostile and violent crowds of pro-censorship students, and masked “anti-fascist” groups who try to shut down any planned event.
In February, masked “Antifa” rioters forced the cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos’ event after throwing bricks into windows, setting fires and assaulting others—leaving thousands of dollars of property damage behind.
Local government in Berkeley and the university came under fire for ignoring the potential riots, as revealed by Heat Street, and merely “hoping” the protest would be contained, despite extremist organizations threatening prior the event of plans to shut it down.
More recently, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin got into hot water over alleged ties to an extremist “anti-fascist” group called By All Means Necessary (BAMN). A source close to the Berkeley city government told Fox News that the Mayor is encouraging left-wing groups by aligning himself with them.
“Mayor Arreguin is not representing all of Berkeley right now,” the anonymous source said. “He’s coming from a deep leftist position. We have some very radical elements on the police review commission. Jesse is emboldening them because he has a majority on the commission.”
Ann Coulter is the next challenge to Berkeley University, where the Free Speech Movement originated. She was originally scheduled to appear on campus on April 27, but the university canceled that event after local police said they had “very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker, attendees and those who may wish to lawfully protest the event.”
The institution later reversed the decision to cancel the event but insisted on changing the date to May 2—a suggestion Coulter refused, saying “I’m speaking at Berkeley on April 27th, as I was invited to do and have a contract to do.”
On Monday, Berkeley student groups announced a lawsuit against the university, citing the school’s decision to stifle free speech, particularly when it comes to politically conservative students.
“Berkeley is well known as a place where ideas used to be welcome. At least on the conservative side. At least until this recent election,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney who is also a prominent California Republican, during a news conference announcing the lawsuit.
“The university is required to give equal access to speakers of different viewpoints,” the attorney added.
Coulter told The Washington Post on Tuesday of her plans to speak on Thursday as originally scheduled. She said she will arrive at Berkeley sometime around 6 p.m. on Thursday and remains hopeful that the university will give “an appropriate room” for the event.
Berkeley College Republicans were floating the idea of holding the event at Sproul Plaza, an open space site, after the administration cancelled Thursday’s planned event and further declined to provide an alternate venue.
Sproul Plaza would be symbolic—it was where the Free Speech Movement protests started in the 1960s—although the administration fears the potential violencein an outdoor area.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said that for an inside event, the university would be prepared to screen people and ensure nobody brings any weapons. An event in an open space, meanwhile, makes it a logistical nightmare as “the challenges are immense.”
“If somebody brings weapons, there’s no way to block off the site, or to screen them,” he said, adding that “In an open space, you have almost no control over that.”
Law enforcement sources told Fox News that whether Coulter shows up or not, there is a “99 percent” chance that the campus will erupt in violence.
Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired commander from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who met with Berkeley police on Monday, claimed the police are preparing for the worst case scenario due to the threat from extremist groups heading to Berkeley. These groups believe the local police won’t stop their violence.
“We’ve been told they’re going to come no matter whether Ann Coulter comes or not, and the next riot is not a standalone in isolation but a natural consequence of the lackluster approach of the past,” he said.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university will take steps to to protect the campus and is working with local and regional authorities.
“At UC-Berkeley, we don’t have gates,” he said. “There are probably literally hundreds of ways to come onto campus from the city. We don’t have a drawbridge or moat. We are a completely porous campus.”
UC-Berkeley Chancellor also issued a message to extremist groups: “I’d like to ask them to stay away. It’s a college campus. If they want to come and engage in free speech, that’s great. If they want to come and disrupt and engage in other activities, they should stay away from the university.”