After threats of violence aimed at conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s planned speaking event rattled officials at the University of California, Berkeley, the university proposed to reschedule the date. Coulter has rejected the offer.
“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” Coulter asked Fox News host Tucker Carlson Wednesday night after the university initially said she couldn’t speak on campus on April 27.
The decision to cancel that event came amid worries that it could spark the same kind of politically related violent protests the campus has seen in the last few months. Coulter was invited by the Berkeley College Republicans. University spokesman Dan Mogulof told The Huffington Post that police had learned that groups responsible for earlier violent demonstrations planned to target Coulter’s speech.
On Thursday, university officials backtracked and said they would reschedule her event for May 2, when they could provide adequate security. That day falls within a quiet week when classes have ended and students are studying for finals. Coulter refused the offer on Friday, noting that fewer students would be around to potentially hear her.
She and the student group that invited her have now obtained a lawyer, according to The Washington Post. They are threatening litigation if the university doesn’t let her speak on the original date.
Coulter tweeted her frustration:
In a letter to the university on Friday, the San Francisco law firm representing the Berkeley College Republicans accused the university of attempting to silence Coulter.
“We demand that UC Berkeley honor its obligation to respect the First Amendment rights of its students, without regard to their political preference or affiliation, by ensuring that Ms. Coulter be allowed to speak on campus,” the letter reads.
In a letter provided to HuffPost, the university’s chief campus counsel responded that Berkeley officials had not been consulted about the original event to begin with. Finding an appropriate venue with enough security was difficult because of the short notice, the university said.
“On behalf of BCR you have now rejected the May 2 offer, and so we have discontinued the extensive planning efforts that were underway to hold an event on that date,” the letter states.
The university said it was willing to work with the Berkeley College Republicans to find a solution.
“We are dismayed that your letter suggests a disregard of the professional judgment of law enforcement regarding security concerns,” the letter says, “but we stand ready to work with BCR to find a date, time, and venue where its rights and campus security can be maximized.”