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World
26 Apr 2017

Berkeley college sued for denying conservative commentator permission to speak

The students who invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to the University of California at Berkeley for a talk, have sued college officials for cancelling the event.

The lawsuit alleges the UC Berkeley decision was discriminatory and violated free speech rights.

Coulter's April 27 appearance was cancelled because violence had broken out before Milo Yiannopoulos, another right-wing media figure, was scheduled to speak in February.

In context

Students sue Berkeley college over Ann Coulter row

27 Apr 2017

Pro-Trump commentator Ann Coulter cancels Berkeley speech

Ann Coulter, an American conservative commentator, has cancelled her speech scheduled at the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday, following a bitter free-speech row.

University officials had earlier said they couldn't provide a safe venue due to risks of violent protests during the speech.

Coulter had previously said she would visit the campus anyway but backtracked after event organizers withdrew their support.

26 Apr 2017

Berkeley college sued for denying conservative commentator permission to speak

The students who invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to the University of California at Berkeley for a talk, have sued college officials for cancelling the event.

The lawsuit alleges the UC Berkeley decision was discriminatory and violated free speech rights.

Coulter's April 27 appearance was cancelled because violence had broken out before Milo Yiannopoulos, another right-wing media figure, was scheduled to speak in February.

Who is Ann Coulter?

Coulter is a conservative commentator and author who is known for being a fervent supporter of Donald Trump. She is known for her staunch anti-immigration stance and has courted controversy for making anti-Semitic comments eschewing alt-right hypernationalistic sentiment.

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What the lawsuit seeks

Lawsuit

What the lawsuit seeks

The lawsuit was filed by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation has named University of California President Janet Napolitano and other college officials.

They have asked a San Francisco federal court to fine the college and award damages to speech organizers.

The university's decision has been widely criticized, even by leading American liberal voices and commentators.

Coulter accuses UC Berkeley of "violating the Constitution"

Coulter said "our demand that university administrators and Berkeley police to do their jobs, stop violating the Constitution, and provide me with an appropriate, safe venue for my speech this Thursday."

Response

Berkeley cites safety concerns, says it's committed to free speech

University officials cited safety concerns over the decision to cancel the event.

UC Berkeley said it's "committed to providing a forum to enable Ann Coulter to speak on the Berkeley campus."

"The allegation ... that Ms. Coulter is being prohibited from speaking because of her conservative views is untrue," it added.

Berkeley gave birth to Free Speech Movement in the 1960s

In 1964, 1000 students marched into the Berkeley's Sproul Hall to protest in favour of free speech. The students demanded, among other things, that UC Berkeley stop restricting political activity on campus. The protest and subsequent brutal police crackdown changed activism in America forever.

No rescheduling

Berkeley now asks Coulter to give speech next week

Following an outcry, Berkeley officials reversed course asking Coulter to speak on May 2 but at an indoor location.

Speech organizers also said most students will be preparing for exam around that date and may not be able to attend the talk.

Coulter has rejected the offer saying she's planning to visit the campus on Thursday, despite the university's warnings.

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