An event hosted by controversial conservative speaker Ben Shapiro caused chaos on campus earlier tonight. Approximately 600 people filled Ackerman Grand Ballroom to attend Shapiro’s talk, “The Rise of Campus Fascism,” in which Shapiro compared tactics and beliefs of “the campus left” to those of Nazis.
While the atmosphere inside Ackerman was quiet and polite, put off only slightly by the many uniformed security officers flanking a tall metal barrier around the stage, the stretch of Bruin Walk outside the building was a different story. Tightly-packed crowds of students clustered around several people wearing Make America Great Again hats. Approximately seven people, mostly older white men, loudly proclaimed pro-Trump rhetoric as student protesters challenged them on their views. Topics that were discussed included transgender validity, white supremacy, systemic racism, and free speech. In the background, groups of students with signs and megaphones marched and chanted, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, right-wing bigots go away!”
“I like these conversations. They need to happen,” said Ruby Tucker, a third year transfer sociology major. “I live in a fairly liberal bubble.” Tucker was one of the more vocal students, laughing between sentences and speaking loud enough for the crowd to hear. Tucker and other students, many of whom were black, confronted the Trump supporters on claims that African Americans lived off of welfare because of “the family structure being broken down.”
Later in the night, the protest moved to the base of Janss steps, where a counter-event provided a healing space for those upset by the chaos of the night. Candles gently lit up chalk drawings and messages calling for unity and community.
OutWrite conducted interviews with many of the Trump supporters and the students who protested them. Keep up to date with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as we uncover this story and the voices behind it.