by Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN News
BERKELEY, CA — Fil-Am students took part in opposing protests near the University of California in Berkeley yesterday, after a talk on campus was given by conservative social and political commentator and writer Ann Coulter.
While there are those who say Coulter’s ideology has no place in a liberal campus, others say it is a slap in the country’s core values.
Kababayans joined hundreds of people who gathered Thursday near the UC Berkeley campus to protest a canceled appearance by Coulter, who is a known conservative speaker and President Donald Trump supporter.
Coulter says she scrapped plans to speak at UC Berkeley, casting blame on conservative student organizers who withdrew their invitation, following their dispute with university officials.
Protesters say this is not about President Trump, or even about being liberal or conservative. They say this is about the first amendment, the right to free speech.
They also say it’s hard to stand against the norm in this political climate. Many of them wore armor and protective gear during the rally, for fear that they would get hurt by liberals.
“Not everyone here is a fan of Ann Coulter. Not everyone here is a fan of Donald Trump. Not everyone here is a white person or a white supremacist either,” said Christan Santos, a sophomore at San Jose State University. “There are people of all colors, all incomes, all regions, all sexual orientations… and they’re really here to support the concept of free speech. It really is a non-partisan issue. It’s an American value.”
This was not the first time protests erupted at UC Berkeley over conservative speakers.
In February, a violent demonstration took place ahead a planned appearance by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannapoulus — with protesters causing $100,000 worth of damage to the campus.
While Santos insists they are there to peacefully protest what they call an infringement on free speech, there were still confrontations between supporters and opponents of coulter.
These Pinoy students believe the campus made the right decision in putting a stop to the spreading of Coulter’s conservative ideology.
“We’re seeing us as a university come together, as we the people, and we really express how we feel about things that we object against… and I think that’s very just powerful in itself,” said Berkeley sophomore Kevin Paule.
Administrators insist that this is a university — not a battlefield.