Berkeley protest draws pro- and anti-Trump groups

Berkeley, known as the home of the free speech movement, was under heavy police watch on Thursday as hundreds of people waving American flags and chanting United States of America gathered in a park to protest a cancelled appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

The current debate at Berkeley over the contested appearance of Ann Coulter as a guest speaker, of course, is emblematic of the larger, serious issue of which views should be permitted on campus and which, because they are deemed by the illiberal Left to be outside the bounds of appropriate discourse, should not.

Police in riot gear had prepared for possible violence between supporters and opponents of Coulter, but there were no major confrontations as the raucous rally wrapped up in the late afternoon. We are a divided country.

Officials at UC Berkeley said last week they feared renewed violence on campus if Coulter followed through with plans to speak.

"They tried to ban her and we can't allow that". Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley.

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".

After initially barring a Coulter speech for Thursday, university officials proposed moving the event to next Tuesday.

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

On "The Situation Room", Bell spoke to host Wolf Blitzer about the recent Ann Coulter speech cancellation at the University of California, Berkeley.

Shutting down speech is not only unconstitutional, it violates one of the university's primary values.

UPDATE: Two additional arrests have been made in the vicinity of protests, this time by Berkeley police.

Mr. McInnes echoed those sentiments in his own remarks, asking why "American citizens, American immigrants and American millennials" aren't more grateful to live in America.

"This is a university, not a battlefield", Dirks said in the letter. "I didn't have any sponsors, I didn't have Berkeley".

Coulter is the second prominent conservative in two months to have a Berkeley event scuttled out of safety concerns, prompting criticism that the university isn't living up to its free speech ideals.

Now both groups are suing the university, and several provocative right-wing speakers - including Yiannopoulos and white nationalist Richard Spencer - have vowed to deliver remarks on campus later this year in Coulter's stead.

"I think we're not doing enough of listening to people and to talking to each other and getting engaged in these uncomfortable conversations... and listen to people who we may think think differently than us but a lot of times we find out they're more like us than we realize", he said. "If these extremists get violent we'll put our foot down". But the school, a longtime bastion of free speech that has recently been plagued by violence over controversial speakers, denied it had canceled.

Coulter says she might still show up to say hello to supporters.

But protesters are converging on Berkeley. Free speech and civil engagement is necessary to move our politics beyond polarization and address points of contention.

The Bay Area chapter of the International Socialist Organization invited students and other members of the Berkeley community who oppose "racist provocateurs" to an "Alt-Right Delete" news conference.

  • Leroy Wright