Protesters Shut Down BLM Critic, Threaten Student Journalists

On Thursday, a raucous crowd of student protesters blocked the exits to Claremont McKenna College’s Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, shutting down a scheduled lecture and question-and-answer session by Heather Mac Donald, a prominent scholar and critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chanting “Black lives matter here” and “no cops, no KKK, no fascist USA,” protesters massed tightly around the exits, blocking fellow students from entering Mac Donald’s scheduled presentation, entitled “The War on Police.” Even faculty members who sought to enter the building were denied, with waves of protesters screaming and resorting to physical force to repel anyone who drew too close to the building. At one point, a crowd of White students screaming “Fuck White supremacy, fuck White supremacy” pushed an elderly White professor away from the Athenaeum entrance.

When the scheduled start time of Mac Donald’s presentation came and then went, the crowds earned a half-victory: Students wishing to attend the event were unable to hear Mac Donald in person, though her presentation ultimately took place over a video livestream more than an hour behind schedule.

“Student protesters have made it impossible for guests to enter the Athenaeum for the Heather McDonald talk this evening,” wrote Peter Uvin, the Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the Faculty at Claremont McKenna College, in a campus-wide email. “In the interest of safety, Heather McDonald’s lecture will be livestreamed as close to 6:15 PM as possible.”

After Uvin’s announcement, the protests continued to swell. Upon locating the source of the livestream, students stood outside the glass windows and screamed in the hopes of disrupting the presentation. They also gathered outside all the entrances and exits from the building, including the service entrances and fire escapes, to block anyone seeking to enter or exit and to trap the speaker inside.

Protesters targeted observers and student journalists with their ire. White male students watching the chaos were ordered to leave, while journalists — including several from the Independent — found themselves surrounded by a mob seeking to block their coverage. One editor from the Independent reported receiving threats of physical violence for recording video at the scene, while another had to retreat to safety from the mob under the protection of a line of campus security officers.

Protesters also confronted students taking photos on the outskirts of the gathering, demanding that they blur out every person in their photos of the public demonstration.

Campus security was present during the protest, with anywhere from 10 to about 20 officers reportedly on the scene. Though typically unarmed, campus security officers appeared to be equipped with pepper spray in the event of a violent escalation. Despite several direct confrontations with protesters, who pressed forward into officers as they yelled “fuck the police,” the officers remained collected and professional, restraining the angry crowd without resorting to force.

At 7:05 pm Uvin released a statement to the Claremont McKenna community, which criticized the protest’s methods:

“What we face here is not an attempt to demonstrate, or to ask tough questions of our speaker, all of which are protected and cherished on this campus, but rather to make it impossible for her to speak, for you to listen, and for all of us  to debate. This we could not accept.”

Uvin went on to emphasize the importance of open discussion:

“Questions about policing, police brutality, crime, and race matter a lot to our society. Yet precisely because these issues are so important, we must be able to debate them, to acknowledge that there exist different analyses and life experiences about these matters, and to listen carefully to each other.”

Uvin ended the statement with a lengthy quote from the recent statement written by Princeton professors Cornel West and Robert George, including the following:

“It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?”

 

These statements have been adjusted since the story’s initial publication to include Dean Uvin’s statement.

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Photo: Jenifer Hanki

Quinn Clarke, Elliot Dordick, Will Gu, and Steven Glick contributed reporting.

46 thoughts on “Protesters Shut Down BLM Critic, Threaten Student Journalists”

    1. This simply shows the stupidity and ignorance of these students inculcated in the nonsense of BLM as if they actually have any idea of the ideology of this pernicious organization – the current fad of supporting anything that seems to be antithetic to common sense; intelligence and civility are dying on the limb of loss of an election and the false idea of a prescience, that anticipation of the course of human events as a catastrophe – as the result of President Trump’s presidency. Events such as this are simply concomitant, the ancillary nexus and milieu – of this ilk.

  1. “more than an hour behind schedule”

    Nope, it was actually half an hour ahead of schedule, given that Ath talks normally start at 6:45. Six people reporting and you can’t even get the basic facts right. So much for journalistic excellence. (And don’t even get me started on the lack of a single interview).

    1. I did see CI people try to interview some of the protesters but none of their attempts succeeded because of the interruption of other protesters.

    2. Interviewer: “We’d Luke to ask you a few questions about your protest. Could you answer some of our questions?”
      Interviewee: “Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here!”
      Interviewer: “Great, thanks.”

  2. This must stop. The first amendment protects all speech that does not cause immediate harm. This is our most treasured right and if BLM and the other racist thugs keep this up their violence will, inevitably, be met with a stronger response. In that arena they are woefully out manned and would lose.

  3. Why didn’t security make a path for those wanting in to enter. This is a violation of rights. They have a right to protest but not violate the rights of others. Arrest should of been made. The President and Dean of Students coming out against it today does no good. They should of stepped up for the students of their own college last night, as the majority of these protesters are not even students of CMC.

    1. There is no way Claremont PD has the manpower to arrest 200 people surrounding the Ath. Unless you arrest all of them at once, the scene likely turns violently out of control. And Campus Security is incompetent and, therefore, no ability to make a path. CMC will need to bring in outside security and develop other protocols to prevent Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps students doing this again.

  4. There are a few things factually wrong with this article. For one, there were no confrontations with camp sec. There was no physical force used on those trying to get in-they were blocked from entering the Ath, yes, but no one laid hands on them. Protestors did not push an elderly professor. They were not a “mob” and CI reporters had no reason to fear for their safety. Of course there was animosity towards CI reporters, but that’s to be expected when their poor journalistic standards and inciteful articles lead to death threats against students. Also, the only white students who drew the ire of the protestors were the ones standing by them, throwing insults and taunting the protestors. Regardless of your views on this subject/story, it is important to have quality and fair journalism. matthew Ludlum and Matthew reade clearly failed in that regard. Quite atrocious journalism really. Sad.

    1. “There was no physical force used on those trying to get in-they were blocked from entering the Ath, yes, but no one laid hands on them.” You have an odd definition of “force” and “mob.” Maybe it didn’t devolve into extreme violence. But 100s of people physically blocking all entrances/exits and not letting people in is still force. By definition, a group using force in this way is a mob.

      And well, telling a CI reporter that you’ll punch him, I think, might constitute as a threat (at the 9:56 mark). I think there’s at least some reason to fear for one’s safety: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fclaremontindependent%2Fvideos%2F850814355072898%2F

    2. You don’t have to “lay a hand” on someone to physically obstruct.
      A wall of people not moving out of the way of a person trying to enter into the event is a physical obstruction and serves no one — and is repressive of individual rights.

      1. My point is that the CI article was written in a way that insinuated that protestors were physical TOWARDS other people, when they were not. They did not lay hands on anyone, contrary to what the article says. The act of preventing entry is a physical action, yes, but there was no physical aggression which the CI both said was present and implied

          1. I can’t tell you ‍♂️ I personally didn’t agree with the protest, but I also don’t agree with how it’s portrayed in this article and the poor journalistic standards that are clearly on display by these writers

    3. I was at the protest yesterday and saw someone throw a plastic bottle at Steven Glick’s head. Does that count as physical assault?

  5. It all reminds me of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. A couple of professional anarchists show up with bullhorns and the know-nothing students fall right in line.

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