Violent transgender activists and Antifa agitators interrupted the final Students for Life “Lies Pro-Choicers Believe” Tour at Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday and shut the event down.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins’ and student ambassador Isabel Brown’s speaking tour concluded at the Richmond, Virginia, public university in violence as police arrested protesters and forced the speakers to leave.
“We were deeply disappointed in how campus and city police handled the incident as First Amendment rights were trampled upon and physical attacks were made due to inaction,” Students for Life press strategist and staff writer Caroline Wharton told The Daily Signal. “Pro-life speech is free speech and should have been firmly defended as such, especially at a public university.”
“Two people were arrested Wednesday evening after there was some disruption at an event in VCU’s University Student Commons,” the university told The Daily Signal. “The student organization ‘Students for Life at VCU’ invited a pro-life speaker to its meeting, which was open to the public and attracted about 70 people. The meeting was disrupted by the unruly conduct of some attendees, and VCU Police were called at about 5:40 p.m.”
The school said that two individuals not related to the university were arrested.
Antifa agitators showed up to the event holding signs for Black Lives Matter and the transgender movement while goading other protesters in the crowd. Antifa, an organization known for instigating violence, caused numerous altercations between the protesters and Students for Life staff, including documentarian Kevin Feliciano. Autumn Walser, president of Students for Life at VCU, received a leg injury while other students received scratches and cuts.
“Antifa came for a fight,” Students for Life of America Executive Vice President Tina Whittington said after the event. “The protesters had three chants they kept recycling: ‘Fascists Go Home,’ ‘Nazis Go Home,’ and ‘F— Pro-lifers.’”
“It was so ridiculous. That’s the definition of fascism and Nazism—not allowing for free speech,” Whittington said. “They wouldn’t allow other ideas to be expressed, and in a way, they won, even though pro-life students stayed to talk after the event.”
VCU police arrived and did not address the crowd of violent agitators but instead asked Hawkins to leave, to which she replied, “You would have to arrest me. I’m not leaving.”
“Students for Life will be providing security for Autumn on campus for the near future until we can be sure that she is safe here,” said Hawkins. “And we will be demanding that VCU invite me and Isabel back to hold an event that is safe for all to attend.”
Currently, VCU’s policy on the use of event space says that the school “recognizes that the free expression of ideas and open inquiry are essential in fulfilling its academic mission by embracing rigorous open discourse, argumentation, speaking, listening, learning and the exploration of ideas.”
This was not the first time Antifa had protested Hawkins, but this instance was the most violent yet, according to Students for Life.
According to Whittington, VCU police detained Students for Life team members and pro-life students while Antifa and the transgender activists were dispersed. VCU’s campus police did not respond when The Daily Signal reached out for a comment.
“Silencing the peaceful people because of fear of the loud and violent makes us all less safe,” said Hawkins. “We will be back to ensure that free speech truly exists at VCU.”
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