BLM, SPLC vow to protest Republican events at Columbia

Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and the Southern Poverty Law Center have vowed to pressure Columbia University into cancelling College Republicans events.

On Tuesday, CUCR will host far-right activist Tommy Robinson, who will deliver a lecture on immigration through Skype. Later this month, the group will host Mike Cernovich, who will speak on the role that alternative media played in electing Trump.

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More than 100 people have RSVP’d to a counter-protest led by the BLM chapter of Greater New York and the SPLC at Columbia. While the BLM chapter is an outside organization, the SPLC at Columbia group is led by Columbia School of Social Work student Mistee Denson, who declined to speak with Campus Reform.

“[We] will be marching and protesting in response to this hateful and divisive rhetoric which we feel does not align with the values of the university and has no place on the Columbia campus,” the protest page declares. “Our goal is to not only protest the event on Tuesday, but also to pressure the university into cancelling the Cernovich event, as well as any future events involving these kinds of hateful and racist views.”

Students will meet off-campus at a local train station, and then march to Columbia University. They plan to arrive on campus around 7:00 p.m., one hour before Robinson is scheduled to begin speaking.

It is unclear if they plan to disrupt the event, and Denson, one of the lead organizers of the protest, declined to comment on the matter.

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An additional group of undergraduate students also plans to protest Robinson’s lecture. More than 140 students have RSVP’d to attend, which will also commence before Robinson gives his lecture.

In an interview with Campus Reform, CUCR President Aristotle Boosalis bemoaned the role of outsiders in creating a hostile climate for free speech on campus.

"A lot of the protesters aren't even students. It's not led by students. If you look at the groups that are organizing these, many are not student groups,” Boosalis remarked. "It's their right to protest, and it's fine that they're protesting, but it's led by outside organizations. It's a representation of outside forces trying to dictate campus culture."

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While CUCR refrains from taking policy stances, Boosalis explained that they invited Robinson not because the CR members necessarily agree with him, but because he provides a less-understood perspective on immigration.

“We're bringing one person that represents one view on immigration,” Boosalis said, adding that it is crucial to understand Robinson’s views because “quite a few Americans would sympathize with them.”

Campus Reform reached out to Columbia University for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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