As reports circulate indicating a speaking engagement by Ann Coulter was shut down over security concerns, Ottawa police are left scratching their heads. They say the event wasn't shut down, there was no riot and they know nothing about Facebook threats.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was in the middle of a Canadian tour this week to promote her new book. After a stop in London, ON, Coulter was supposed to head to Ottawa.
Ahead of the Ottawa appearance, however, Coulter's security detail informed her it may not be safe to speak and so the event was cancelled. Since then, Coulter has publicly lashed out at organizers and officials in Ottawa over the way she has been treated.
Despite media reports and angry words from Coulter, Ottawa police say they did not shut down the event. DigitalJournal.com spoke directly with Alain Boucher, Ottawa Police Services media relations officer, who said, "It was a decision by organizers and her own security."
He said, in no uncertain terms, "We didn't shut it (the event) down."
Furthermore, there weren't thousands of protesters as has been reported by some media outlets. In fact, the best police estimate of the crowd size is 1,500 and that is everyone. Many in the crowd were there simply to hear Coulter speak and were not there to protest. Boucher refused to be drawn into estimating the exact number of protesters.
In addition, there was no mob nor riot. "We had no fears that anything would occur," Boucher said. "When asked to leave, [the crowd] all left."
Boucher said with large crowds the police are always alert to changes in the group mood, but said the crowd did not get way out of hand and there were no arrests.
Ottawa Police Services
Cst. Alain Boucher, media relations officer, Ottawa Police Services
Boucher also said the Ottawa police took the protest seriously and were not undermanned. There were 10 officers visible at the scene, "plus other resources" nearby. There was "more than enough" police presence at the event. That said, the police, while taking care not to aggravate the situation, were also prepared to handle any possible escalation of crowd action.
Although it has been widely reported that police were monitoring Facebook and had informed Coulter's people of an apparent menacing tone in Facebook activity ("bring sticks, bring rocks") Boucher had no knowledge of any of this and could not supply DigitalJournal.com with any Facebook links.
Boucher confirmed "no damage was reported."