UC Berkeley issues new speaking invitation to Ann Coulter

BERKELEY (KTVU) -- A day after UC Berkeley said it would be unable to accommodate a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, the university announced Thursday that it has extended an invite to the pundit.

It was not clear if Coulter will accept the new invite but the university said it has found a suitable venue to host a speech by Coulter and that the speech could be held on May 2.

"While it is not one we have used for these sorts of events in the past, it can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by our police department," Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said.

The administrator said school officials have informed the Berkeley College Republicans, who originally invited Coulter to campus, and Coulter team.

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"We look forward to working with them," Dirks said, adding that the school will announce where she will be speaking after Coulter's acceptance. "We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations."

Berkeley is still reeling from a violent protest that erupted on April 15 when supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump clashed. During that event, 20 people were arrested and 11 people were hurt during the melee that broke out.

Several hundred demonstrators and counter-demonstrators gathered at the Martin Luther King. Jr. Civic Center Park for the April 15 rallies. Similar rallies were held at the park on March 4 and resulted in 10 people being arrested.

Campus administrators said registered student groups have the right to invite speakers to address their groups but school officials must still provide safety and security during the events.

Said Dirks: "As the home of the Free Speech Movement, we fully support the right and ability of our students to host speakers of their choice, and we believe that exposing students to a diverse array of perspectives is an inherent and inseparable part of our educational mission."

"We also have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and well-being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of our campus and surrounding communities."

Campus police said they have received information about threats to Coulter, speech attendees and protesters if the event were to go forward on the April 27 date originally planned for her appearance.

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