Crowds of protesters chanted, “Go home fascist” and held signs that read phrases such as, “Unite to fight patriarchy and bigotry,” among other slogans on the bottom steps of the Long Beach State University Student Union Tuesday night.
This protest was in response to Campus Clash, a talk hosted by Turning Point USA featuring conservative speakers Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens. Videos posted on Twitter showed shoving matches between protesters and TPUSA supporters. One man snatched a poster from the protesters which he attempted to tear, leading to one member of the crowd to spit on him. Shouts were exchanged between him and the crowd, with the man eventually walking away as the crowd chanted “go home fascist” to him.
— Jaron Cofield (@JaronCofield) October 24, 2018
According to its website, TPUSA was founded in 2012 by Kirk and is a nonprofit conservative organization whose mission is to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government.”
The USU Beach Auditorium was filled to max capacity while the 236 attendees who were allowed entry eagerly waited for the event, which started 20 minutes behind schedule due to the speakers flying in from New Jersey that same night.
The event was broken up into two halves, a panel discussion featuring Kirk and Owens, followed by a Q&A session where audience members with opposing views were invited to share their disagreements; however, no member of the audience challenged their views at the microphone.
Outside the USU, plastic orange barricades and chain-linked fences surrounded the north side of the building’s lawn as an added layer of security, while helicopters hovered above. Police dressed in riot gear lined the fences to “protect all parties’ rights to peaceful assembly,” according to the University Police Department’s Twitter account.
— MAGA MINDS (@MagaMinds) October 24, 2018
Despite a few heated confrontations between members of the crowd, the event never prompted police involvement.
Within the Beach Auditorium walls, Kirk and Owens gave their stances on topics such as sexual assault, a free market economy and Owens’ experience as a Black conservative in today’s society.
Both Kirk and Owens criticized leftist movements “rooted in victimhood,” citing #MeToo and Black Lives Matter as examples, and claimed that leftists perpetuate issues of oppression to victimize themselves and assert control.
Owens is known for openly expressing her disapproval of the #MeToo movement and condemning radical feminism on her Twitter. She criticized the #MeToo movement for becoming a weapon used to target men in the political realm, referencing Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct allegations in particular.
“There is, without a doubt, a war happening in this country on men,” Owens said. “If we’re saying there’s no due process and you should just believe women, think about how scary that environment is for men that are coming up in a society.”
According to TPUSA campus coordinator Amber Ottosen, the group hopes to host more speakers and hold more events like this in the future.
“I think it’s important [to have events like these on college campuses] because you have to bring marginalized ideas to the forefront,” said Eric Aldana, president of TPUSA’s LBSU chapter.
Some students watching did not approve of the protesters.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but they must understand that this is kind of going against the entire idea of free [speech],” said Chris Stevenson, a second year business management major who was watching the protest. “This really is kind of disgusting in a way.”
Other students in the crowd could be seen trying to aggravate the protesters by taking pictures in front of them while wearing Make America Great Again hats, and stepping on their chalk-written messages, with one reading, “The school tells us they don’t care about the safety of students fuck these racist fucks!”
“I sort of started trolling because what they’re basically doing is [impeding] free speech,” said business major Enrique Campos.
Jesus Torres, an English major at Cypress College, donned an American flag as a cape and stood with protesters who were holding signs, with one reading “Humans are not disposable, capitalism is.”
“It’s not about my rights, it’s about everyone’s rights,” Torres said.
Earlier in the day, President Jane Close Conoley sent a free speech reminder to the campus community, noting that University Police would be present at the event.
“Peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Constitution but if violence erupts, individuals’ rights to assemble are negated,” Conoley wrote. “Therefore, University Police will disband any violent assembly on campus posing a danger to people or property.”
The event concluded with participants quietly dispersing and no arrests made, according to an email sent out by Conoley Wednesday.
This story was updated on Oct. 25.
Watch our video coverage of the event here:
VIDEO | Adam Pacheco