Berkeley, known as the home of the free speech movement, was under heavy police watch on Thursday as hundreds of people waving American flags and chanting United States of America gathered in a park to protest a cancelled appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Six people were arrested - one for obstructing an officer and wearing a mask to evade police, and another for possessing a knife.
But there were no major confrontations between Coulter's supporters and opponents, largely because of a significant police presence and the fact that members of an extremist left-wing group did not show up to provoke clashes.
Coulter told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Thursday that Berkeley claimed the threat of violence is what led to the cancellation, but she's not buying it.
"There are ways of dealing with violence", Coulter said.
"This is clear censorship and it does not stand under the First Amendment", she said.
Further adding to the tension earlier in the day, Coulter suggested in an email to The Associated Press that she still might appear on campus.
The crowd in the park grew to a few hundred by 2 p.m., where conservative provocateur Gavin McInnes read the speech Coulter had planned to give.
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. Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley.
After initially barring a Coulter speech for Thursday, university officials proposed moving the event to next Tuesday.
Earlier, police mobilized on motorbikes, in armored trucks and on foot for possible violence at the rallies over Coulter's canceled appearance at the university.
Police in Berkeley on Thursday arrested five people during a day of demonstrations in the city.
He said the Berkeley College Republicans erred by inviting Coulter without notifying campus officials in advance, as is required of all student groups, and failing to submit to a "security assessment" to determine a suitable time and place for the event. They blamed the university for failing to ensure protection of conservative speakers.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence but might still "swing by to say hello" to all her supporters.
When BridgeUSA at Berkeley originally learned of conservative campus groups' intention to invite Ann Coulter, we stepped in to mediate better conversation.
Young Americans for Freedom and the Berkeley College Republicans filed a lawsuit against the university, arguing the school failed to accommodate the club with a safe venue for the speech, giving them no choice but to cancel it.
The mayor of Berkeley, California, which has recently been embroiled in a controversy over a scheduled-then-canceled-then-rumored-then-canceled-again Ann Coulter speech, is not happy.
And in March and April, opposing groups from the far-right and far-left skirmished violently near campus.
The police said they were limiting access to one of the university's main plazas and searching individuals for "restricted items" such as "weapons (real and simulated), improvised weapons, tasers, hard plastic/metal/bottles, chains, banners/signs, explosive and incendiary devices".
In February, violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who like Coulter was invited by campus Republicans.