VIDEO: Antifa, students shut down College Republicans event
Student protesters attempted to block the entrances to Tommy Robinson’s speech at Columbia University Tuesday night, then stormed inside to ensure that the event could not proceed.
According to a Facebook page for the protest, the rally was explicitly dubbed an “anti-fascist” protest to show that “alt-right speakers” allegedly like Robinson are “not welcome on our campus.”
“As students and community members, we are disappointed in our campus Young Republicans for choosing to aid the trend violent provocation over intellectual discourse,” a description for the protest, organized by Columbia's Apartheid Divest group, states. “Far-right extremism has relied upon Young Republican chapters at universities for audiences, promotion, and credibility.”
According to video obtained by Campus Reform, protesters attempted to block both entrances to the building where Robinson was speaking, in an effort to prevent attendees from entering.
“When Colin Kaepernick is out of a job, when the president of the United States calls Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization, where is our free speech?” one student protester shouted through a megaphone from outside the building, going on to thank all of the students and faculty who showed up to “f***ing propose an alternative to this bulls**t, to say no, and to fight back.”
Additional footage shows that protesters later stormed the building where Robinson was to speak, shouting “black lives matter” as they entered.
The protests eventually grew so rowdy that Robinson, who planned to Skype in for the appearance from England, had to call a delay.
Although Robinson eventually tuned in, protesters continued to shout over him, preventing him from speaking, and later storming the stage as administrators attempted to dissuade them but to no success.
Protesters continued to control the room, shouting at audience members, and chanting “whose campus? Our campus!” as Robinson still waited to speak.
Robinson, notably, was never able to deliver his full remarks but simply fielded questions from protesters throughout the night.
Outside of the building, more than 100 protesters were left without access to the event, since they did not sign up for tickets in advance, but demanded to be let in anyway.
At one point during the event, protesters began banging on the walls of the auditorium, unable to enter without a ticket, further disturbing the event.
While one administrator in attendance initially attempted to calm the protesters, his efforts proved fruitless as many other administrators stood by watching.
"I'm very depressed with how the event with. I realize free speech is dead,” College Republicans President Ari Boosalis told Campus Reform. “People were disrespectful, they were flipping off, they were not willing to have a conversation, all they wanted to do was yell ‘white supremacy!’ and call me a white supremacist. The protesters never wanted to be challenged."
Saying that “what we saw tonight was despicable,” Boosalis said the protesters acted like “a bunch of children,” observing that “you can see how these kids grew up...”
“This was not free speech, they didn't allow him to talk for the first 15 minutes. Even then, they were rude, they were flipping him off, they didn't want to have a conversation,” he said, concluding that “Columbia failed. The Columbia administration failed.”
Campus Reform reached out to Columbia University multiple times for comment, but did not receive one in time for publication.