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Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said Wednesday she will not speak at the University of California, Berkeley.
It was a confusing day in the long-running controversy. The New York Times and Reuters initially reported that Coulter would “likely” cancel her speech and that she had canceled her speech, respectively. Then Coulter told BuzzFeed News that the university scrapped it. The truth seems to be a little more complicated.
“NO,” Coulter told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday when asked if she canceled the address. “The university canceled it and YAF acquiesced in the cancelation, against my strong wishes. I did everything I could to make this come off.”
But when asked if the school had ever explicitly cancelled the April 27 event, Coulter told BuzzFeed News that “the university's position changed every 20 minutes.”
Coulter followed up in a series of tweets: “It’s sickening when a radical thuggish institution like Berkeley can so easily snuff out the cherished American right to free speech.”
“If we had continued to fight we would have won,” she added on Twitter.
But the university maintains the event was never officially on schedule, and that the student group that helped organize it did not allow for enough time to secure a safe venue.
UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof told BuzzFeed News that the university only became aware of the proposed April 27 date when administrators read about it in the news.
Mogulof called Coulter's claim that the university had cancelled the event “complete nonsense,” adding that “there isn't even a hint of truth to it.”
He added that the Berkeley College Republicans, the group that co-hosted the event alongside Young America's Foundation, “didn't follow procedure the way other students had done.”
Part of the process, he said, includes asking for possible event dates based on when law enforcement thought the space was protectable, and giving at least two months notice ahead of time.
“We spent two weeks scrambling to find a venue” after they found out about the April 27 proposed event, Mogulof said. “We offered her a backup date on May 2, she turned that down. We offered her dates in September, she turned that down.”
The internal vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans confirmed to BuzzFeed News last week that “not enough time was given to the university to plan the event.”
According to a statement from the UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, “claims made by some that there is a ‘stand-down’ order for UCPD is a deplorable fallacy and is evidence of disrespect for the truth and our law enforcement officers, as well as utter ignorance regarding policing strategies on college campuses.”
Dirks added, “As far as Ms. Coulter’s current plans are concerned, we have heard nothing from her organization or the student organization that wanted to host her, the Berkeley College Republicans.”
On April 20, UC Berkeley reversed an earlier decision to cancel Coulter’s speaking engagement, citing safety concerns. In his statement, Dirks noted that the campus police department “has made it clear that they have 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.”
Instead, he offered to book her the following week on May 2, prompting a lawsuit from the Berkeley College Republicans.
Coulter refused to reschedule her appearance, tweeting that UC Berkeley students did not have class the week of May 2.
The other organizing group, Young America’s Foundation, released a statement Tuesday condemning UC Berkeley for making it “impossible to hold a lecture due to the lack of assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from unrestrained leftist agitators.”
The statement also noted that it would no longer participate in the event. “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,” it read.
Alt-right figure Richard Spencer chastised Coulter on Twitter, calling her and other conservatives weak for backing down, and saying that they could have hired their own security.