Flash: Berkeley Officials urge caution in face of protests

Alex Kekauoha (BCN)
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 10:45:00 AM

City officials in Berkeley, along with police and the University of California, will be working together to manage events and gatherings that may take place today in the city and on the UC campus following the cancellation of a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. 

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, city officials urged the public to be vigilant in the event that protests and mass gatherings occur. 

"Mass gatherings of any kind attract a broad variety of people and, inevitably, that means an array of different motives and intentions," officials said. "If you are at a demonstration and you see violence, separate yourself. Keep a distance from violence. If you can do so safely, report it to police." 

Protests and demonstrations are expected to take place after a speech by Coulter was canceled Wednesday by the Berkeley College Republicans. The student group's president, Troy Worden, said Wednesday that the speech was canceled because the university could not guarantee the event would be safe. 

But city and university officials are still anticipating protests and demonstrations to take place today. 

The group Oath Keepers, with supporters of Coulter, is planning to hold a rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley. The rally is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will include conservative speakers. 

Another group called the International Socialist Organization is gathering for a news conference to speak out against the "alt-right," an offshoot of conservatism characterized by white nationalism. They will meet today at noon at the corner of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue. 

City officials said they will continue to develop strategies to ensure safety for all who attend demonstrations. 

"We will work to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone who commits crimes in our community," city officials said.