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UC Berkeley flip-flops on Ann Coulter, proposes May date

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Cliff Owen / AP

In this Feb. 12, 2011, file photo, Ann Coulter waves to the audience after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.

Thu, Apr 20, 2017 (3:56 p.m.)

BERKELEY, Calif. — University of California, Berkeley officials said Thursday they have a "grave concern" of violence on campus if Ann Coulter follows through on her threat to speak next week at the university.

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks instead proposed an alternate May 2 date for the conservative author.

Dirks said police have "very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker," her audience and protesters and urged Coulter to come speak at the later date instead.

Campus Republicans invited Coulter to speak at Berkeley April 27 on the subject of illegal immigration.

On Wednesday, UC Berkeley officials announced they were was calling off the event because of security concerns, prompting Coulter to say she plans to come anyway.

Dirks said Thursday that Coulter's reaction led him to launch an expanded search for an "appropriate, protectable venue."

Young America's Foundation, a conservative group that books Coulter's campus speeches, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Berkeley has been the site of clashes between far-right and far-left protesters, most recently at a rally last weekend called in support of President Donald Trump in downtown Berkeley.

In February, masked agitators shut down a speaking event by Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor of the conservative Breitbart News site.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said campus police learned that some of the groups that appeared to be responsible for the violence last weekend and at the Yiannopoulos event "planned to target the appearance of Ann Coulter on campus."

In a letter to Berkeley College Republicans this week, university officials said they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event.

"We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue," said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. "Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully."

Coulter responded with a string of messages on Twitter, saying "I WILL BE SPEAKING NEXT THURSDAY."

She did not immediately respond on social media after the university proposed the new May 2 date Thursday.

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