Officials at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday reversed their decision to cancel a speech by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter.
The university had announced Wednesday that it was canceling Coulter’s appearance following several political protests in Berkeley that turned violent.
But on Thursday, the university said it had found a venue where it could hold the speech on May 2, instead of the original April 27 date.
However, a leader of the college Republican group that originally invited Coulter said the university was placing strict conditions on the event, and he said his group intended to reject the new terms.
Before the reversal was announced, Coulter had vowed to go ahead with an appearance anyway. That would have put security officials on high alert and might have sparked another showdown in struggles over campus safety, student views and ideological openness.
“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” she said late Wednesday on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Coulter said she “called their bluff” by agreeing to rules set by the university seeking to prevent violence.
University officials originally sent a letter canceling the event to the Republican group that invited Coulter to speak. In it, university officials said Wednesday that they made the decision after assessing the violence that flared on campus in February, when the same college Republican group invited right-wing provocateur and now-former Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.
As the protest and clashes escalated during the Yiannopoulos’s event, some began setting fires, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and attacking members of the crowd.
The violence and damage caused by Yiannopoulos’s invitation garnered national attention and forced officials to put the campus on lockdown. After the university canceled Yiannopoulos’ talk, President Trump criticized the school and threatened in a tweet to pull federal funds from Berkeley.
The decisions by Berkeley to cancel both events involving high-profile conservatives were especially notable given the campus’s role during the 1960s and 1970s as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and its long tradition of social protest.
Coulter said in an email to The Washington Post on Wednesday that the university had been trying to force her to cancel her speech by “imposing ridiculous demands” on her but that she still agreed “to all of their silly requirements.”
She said she believes that her speech “has been unconstitutionally banned” by the “public, taxpayer-supported UC-Berkeley.”
Coulter said the university insisted that her speech take place in the middle of the day, that only students could attend and that the exact venue wouldn’t be announced until the last minute.