Berkeley protests peaceful as hundreds rally over Coulter

Ashton Whitty, left, 21, and Hailey Carlson, right, 24, University of California at Berkeley students, make their feelings known during a news conference held by the Berkeley College Republicans in Sproul Plaza on the campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday.

Vice founder and conservative provocateur Gavin McInnes vowed in a YouTube video to give the speech at a yet to be announced location in Berkeley.

The University of California, Berkeley says it's preparing for possible violence on campus whether Coulter comes to speak or not.

Demonstrators gather Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters.

Coulter said the threats were motivated by a university bias against conservative speakers.

"Both sides are so intolerant of each other". We stand in firm condemnation of any group which seeks to divide people for their personal gain- it is irresponsible and detrimental not only to political progress but to our nation as a whole. "I'm glad the police chose to step in between which is great, especially since we're outnumbered", said anti-Trump protester Richard.

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Campus officials said they were continuing to brace for unrest they see as likely on Thursday.

"I live in Berkeley, like I said earlier".

College Republicans spokesman Naweed Thomas accused university officials of "refusing to ensure the safety of all students" and thus infringing on free-speech rights, as claimed in a lawsuit that sponsors of the event filed in federal court on Tuesday. Four people were arrested - one for obstructing an officer and wearing a mask to evade police, and another for possessing a knife.

NPR's Richard Gonzales was at Berkeley today, and described a large demonstration near campus around noon by protesters who "say they wanted to stage this rally to underscore their objection to Ann Coulter's appearance on the campus even though she says she's not going to come".

She posted Friday on Twitter about the peaceful rallies in Berkeley: "Amazing what cops doing their jobs can accomplish!"

Coulter added: "All of the people who should have been standing up for the First Amendment here, all ran away with their tails between their legs".

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With reinforcements brought in from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol, hundreds of police officers kept watch at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza and at Martin Luther King Jr.

Berkeley, birthplace of the USA free speech movement in the 1960s, has emerged as a flashpoint for the extreme left and right amid debate over free speech. Some of them wore Donald Trump-themed "Make America Great Again" hats or military grade helmets or body armor, according to the Associated Press.

Later, supporters of Trump shouted "Build that wall!" while opponents chanted "No wall". One man had duct tape reading "Berkeley" over his mouth.

Hundreds of far-right protesters, some dressed in goggles, gas masks and knee pads, are rallying in support of conservative speaker Ann Coulter in downtown Berkeley.

In February, violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who like Coulter was invited by campus Republicans. The administration, student groups including ours, external resistance groups, and the media all made mistakes that need to be corrected.

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