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Jeff Flake’s planned talk in Boston moved amid safety concerns

Senator Jeff Flake.
Senator Jeff Flake.(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

A Boston event featuring a pivotal figure in the controversy surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is being relocated because of safety concerns amid a planned protest, officials said.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who was confronted by protesters Friday after he said he would vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination despite sexual assault allegations against the judge, is slated to take the stage Monday at the Forbes Under 30 Summit alongside Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, but university officials moved Friday evening to cancel the event because of safety concerns, according to a statement from Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College.

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“The College just found out about Senator Jeff Flake’s appearance in Boston on Monday. ATG, the Colonial tenant, rented the space to Forbes,” Pelton said. “We are seeking to exercise our right as the owners of the Colonial to have the panel canceled for safety reasons.”

Organizers have been considering several potential venues for the event, according to Matthew Hutchison, a spokesman for Forbes. No decision had been made by Saturday afternoon, and organizers were not considering canceling the event, Hutchison said.

Two spokespeople for Senator Flake did not immediately return e-mail inquiries Saturday.

A Facebook event called “Tell Jeff Flake to Reject Kavanaugh” had drawn interest from hundreds of people by Saturday afternoon.

The demonstration was planned after the Flake event was announced, said Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, one of the planners of the protest. Hart Holder said the group’s intentions were to stand with survivors and increase pressure through peaceful protest on Flake to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Obviously, he plays a pivotal role,” she said in a phone interview Friday.

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Organizers were awaiting confirmation of the event’s relocation Saturday, Hart Holder said.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh; Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Massachusetts; and Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts; are among the people scheduled to speak at the protest, Hart Holder said, adding she will also speak.

Lynn Le, the founder of a women’s boxing lifestyle brand and part of 2018’s Forbes Under 30 class, said she was trying to mobilize some type of action among people attending the summit — without causing a disruption — to ensure they were heard.

Forbes announced that Flake was part of the lineup of speakers Thursday, the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee heard explosive and emotional testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were teenagers.

Kavanaugh forcefully denied Ford’s claims when he testified Thursday afternoon.

The committee, with Flake’s vote, advanced Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate floor Friday. Flake called for a week’s delay on the final vote, pending an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations.

After a request from Republican leaders in the Senate, President Trump directed the FBI to open a supplementary investigation but limited it to a week.

According to an agenda on Forbes’s website, Flake and Kasich are scheduled to discuss “the future of the Republican Party.” The event is scheduled to be moderated by Randall Lane, chief content officer of Forbes Media.

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More than 7,000 young entrepreneurs and innovators are expected to attend the four-day event.


Steve Annear and James Pindell of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Information from the Associated Press was used. Alejandro Serrano can be reached at alejandro.serrano@globe.com.