Protests at Lauren Southern event turn violent, one arrest made
Protesters began fighting with attendees at an event featuring Lauren Southern at the University of Minnesota Thursday night, resulting in an arrest after a SWAT team was called in.
David Blondin of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) said the group invited Southern because its members “believe all opinions need to be heard.”
"One of them spit on me. Before I could comprehend what happened, they shoved me and I nearly fell."
Southern, a popular and controversial right-wing YouTube personality, went to the university to speak about authoritarianism and the importance of free speech, topics which she regularly discusses on her YouTube channel.
Antifa-related groups had planned to protest her presence on campus, and a group of nearly 200 protesters showed up at the event chanting “Nazi scum, off our streets” while carrying signs that said “Minnesota against white supremacy” and “Bigotry not allowed.”
One left-leaning publication in Minnesota, City Pages, went so far as to accuse Southern of being part of the “alt-right,” a charge that she dismissed by saying the alt-right would find that claim “laughable.”
There were no reports of injuries, but when the protesters and attendees began clashing, the police sprayed a chemical irritant three times to break them up, according to university spokesman Evan Lapiska.
Southern tweeted a picture of the attendees inside Anderson Hall and wrote, “They all survived the shrieking commies outside.”
The event itself concluded without interruption from protesters, but after both Southern and the police had departed, there were reports that individuals associated with Antifa, a domestic terrorist organization, stalked attendees of the event and assaulted them.
CFACT adviser Bill Gilles, who witnessed the fight, told Campus Reform that the assailants “were wearing masks and riding bikes...slowly circling us and following us.” When things turned violent, he said, the people in masks “pulled out mace or pepper spray and sprayed attendees.”
Mitch Bendis, one of the alleged victims, recounted the experience for CFACT.
“One of them spit on me,” he claimed, adding that “before I could comprehend what happened, they shoved me and I nearly fell…I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, my friend called the police and that scared them off.”
According to a university spokesperson, police made just one arrest during the various scuffles and altercations, but CFACT is predicting that the number could eventually rise to five or six arrests.
Records identify the arrested person as Brittany Paige Cusack, 21, of Minneapolis, who is not a current student at the university. She was cited for disorderly conduct, posted $78 bail, and left jail at 2:39 a.m.
Gilles said he is not certain whether Cusack is the same person he witnessed attacking attendees.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KylePerisic