Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter has vowed to speak at the University of California, Berkeley, after it cancelled next week’s event. Her visit was cancelled on Wednesday by administrators citing “active security threats”, but Republican students said it was an attack on free speech.
“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” the best-selling author told Fox News.
The campus has been the scene of several violent protests in recent months.
Ms Coulter – author of In Trump We Trust – said the school, which gained prominence in the 1960s as the bastion of the so-called Free Speech Movement, had violated her rights.
Speaking on Fox News, Ms Coulter urged US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the matter because she had been “unconstitutionally banned” from speaking.
She said the university had proposed several rule changes, and she had “called their bluff” by agreeing to the conditions. But college administrators later said they were unable to provide a “safe and suitable venue”. According to the Republican group sponsoring the event, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the university required Ms Coulter speak in the afternoon, only allow students to attend, and announce the location of the speech close to the time of the event.
“Even after Coulter went along with their ruses and guises to shut down her speech, they simply announced, like Kim Jung Un, that it was cancelled,” the YAF said.
Last February, a speech by British conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled due to widespread protests on campus. After that incident, in which masked anarchist protesters vandalised property both on campus and in downtown Berkeley, President Donald Trump responded.
He tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Berkeley is not the only American university to face protests against conservative speakers. On Tuesday night in Alabama, hundreds of students protested against a speech by white supremacist leader Richard Spencer. Auburn University had sought to cancel the speaking event, but a federal judge forced the speech to proceed.