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The Latest: Berkeley hails peaceful debate over Ann Coulter

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/28/2017
Demonstrators shout slogans directed at city hall during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © The Associated Press Demonstrators shout slogans directed at city hall during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Ann Coulter protesters in Berkeley (all times local):

Police form a line in front of Berkeley High School as a rally for free speech takes place across the street Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © The Associated Press Police form a line in front of Berkeley High School as a rally for free speech takes place across the street Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

12:50 p.m.

Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © The Associated Press Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Berkeley officials say their handling of the protests over Ann Coulter's canceled appearance was a success thanks to a massive police presence that ensured the city did not become a "fight club."

A crowd gathers around speakers during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © The Associated Press A crowd gathers around speakers during a rally for free speech Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. Demonstrators gathered near the University of California, Berkeley campus amid a strong police presence and rallied to show support for free speech and condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Mayor Jesse Arreguin has told TV station KTVU on Friday that having a large police presence helped keep raucous protests from escalating into violence.

Hundreds of Coulter's supporters gathered in a downtown Berkeley park Thursday to protest the cancellation of her speaking event at the University of California, Berkeley.

There were tense shouting matches but no major confrontations between the conservative commentator's supporters and opponents, who held a nearby counter-rally.

Berkeley officials and police have been criticized in recent months for failing to stop violence at political rallies.

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12:15 a.m.

Ann Coulter did not turn up in Berkeley where hundreds held a raucous but largely peaceful demonstration in her absence and lamented what they called the latest blow to free speech in the home of America's free speech movement.

The conservative pundit's canceled appearance at the University of California, Berkeley drew hundreds of her supporters to a downtown park Thursday, many of them dressed in flak jackets, ballistic helmets adorned with pro-Donald Trump stickers and other protective gear in anticipation of violence.

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 had publicly floated the idea of making a controversial visit to Berkeley despite the cancellation, but did not show.

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