It's an all-out showdown, and neither Ann Coulter nor UC Berkeley is backing down, even though the university has warned the Conservative pundit and the campus groups that invited her to speak that certain students are actually planning a violent response should she show up on Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The UC Police Department has "received mounting intelligence that some of the same groups that previously engaged in local violent action also intended violence at the Coulter event," Berkeley chief campus counsel Christopher Pratt wrote in a letter to Harmeet Dhillon, the attorney representing Berkeley College Republicans and Young Americas Foundation.
It's an unusual admission that violence is actually planned, as reports of political eruptions at Berkeley since the election of President Donald Trump have mostly been portrayed as peaceful gatherings that turn ugly spontaneously when rival groups clash.
"After careful and extensive review, UCPD and campus administration have determined that neither BCR's free speech rights nor the safety of the campus community can be safeguarded on April 27," the letter continues.
Despite the warning, Coulter told THR on Saturday: "Still speaking the 27th."
"It's like Alice in Wonderland," Coulter added, wondering why the letter vaguely refers to "groups" that are "intending violence" but never specifies the political affiliation of her detractors.
"After extensive review, the University determined that none of the limited number of adequately sized campus venues that could be protected from the known security threats is available on BCR's requested April 27 date," Berkeley's attorney wrote.
Previously, Berkeley informed Coulter and the groups that invited her that, while they wouldn't accommodate her on April 27, they could on May 2, a date during "dead week" when students are taking finals and unavailable for outside activities, according to Dhillon. Coulter declined and said she would appear Thursday as she had originally agreed, with or without permission from administrators.
The most recent letter to Dhillon, dated Friday, also says that Berkeley has gone out of its way to accommodate BCR, more so than any other group on campus.
"This semester, UC Berkeley has dedicated more resources - in the form of staff time, administrative attention, police resources, and cash outlay - to facilitating BCR's expressive activities than have been devoted to any other student group in memory," the letter states. "Dedicated staff and administrators have spent countless hours, including during weekends and vacations, working to enable BCR's planned events."
The letter also says that BCR didn't have permission to host Coulter on Thursday, and Berkeley learned of the date through media reports - an account that Dhillon called untrue in a letter back to Berkeley, also obtained by THR.
"First, I want to express how disappointed I am that counsel for UC Berkeley, of all institutions, would misgender me by addressing your letter to 'Mr.' Dhillon," the letter begins.
Dhillon says that administrators were alerted March 17 of a 50 percent chance Coulter would appear in late April, then on March 28 they confirmed she'd appear on April 27.
"UC Berkeley only began raising more and more issues about the event, and piling on new and more arbitrary restrictions, as the date drew closer," wrote Dhillon.
"All one has to do to silence conservative speakers at UC Berkeley, is to don a mask and become violent, or place anonymous phone calls to the administration threatening such violence," she wrote. "Unfortunately for UC Berkeley's sui generis policies for stifling conservative speech, the Constitution does not permit the heckler's veto to drown out the voices of speakers in otherwise permitted places."
THR also learned that a moviemaking crew representing Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager, unaffiliated with Coulter, will be on hand filming the appearance and reaction for No Safe Spaces, an upcoming documentary about political correctness on American campuses.