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Police Get Ready As Pundit Ann Coulter Insists On Public Speech In Berkeley

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- UC Berkeley is bracing for conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

Coulter is set to speak at Sproul Plaza and police explained to us their plan to keep people safe.

On Tuesday, less than 48 hours before Coulter is expected to talk, the Young America's Foundation pulled out of the event over safety concerns.

The group will not be moving forward with an event at Berkeley on April 27th due to the lack of assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from what they say is, unrestrained leftist agitators.

They say Berkeley should be ashamed for creating this hostile atmosphere.

On February 1st there was a protest that stopped former Breitbart editor Milo Yianopolous from speaking at UC Berkeley. Then, on March 4th, in downtown Berkeley, a pro-Trump demonstration got violent.

And about two weeks ago, on April 15th, there was another clash between pro and anti-Trump protesters in Civic Center Park.

It seems like the city has been under siege.

Berkeley police Chief Andrew Greenwood said, "I'm not the only one concerned, I'm sure our entire community is concerned that we have to deal with this."

Fearing more violence, university officials cancelled a speech by Coulter, but she says she will show up anyway.

Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for the student group that sponsored the Coulter event, says the police aren't doing enough to protect conservative speakers.

"They don't do anything. They won't lift a finger, they won't protect you, they won't arrest anybody and unless you are literally about to be killed in front of their eyes, they won't do anything," Dhillon said.

Chief Greenwood says the media is to blame for only showing the most violent parts.

"It's a false frame or a myth that somehow we're not doing anything," Greenwood said.

There is a long history of public demonstrations in Berkeley, but Chief Greenwood says this time, it's different.

"It's a new scenario. That there'll be planned events where essentially two sides are showing up to square off and where at least that many people in addition are coming to watch from 3 to 6 inches away or from a foot away," he said.

This mix of people fighting with people just watching keeps the police on the sidelines.

"There are a lot of people who are watching technically not breaking the law but upon whom, if we were to use force we would be held to the highest level of accountability," Greenwood said.

Coulter has said she'll show up on Thursday, despite her canceled event.

Greenwood said, "I'm confident that we're focused on safety not only for Ms. Coulter but for everybody involved…our goal is to make it a safe event for everyone involved and that's it."

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