Monday, July 22

Bruin Republicans’ event sparks protests, draws conflicting viewpoints

Protesters and individuals wearing "Make American Great Again" hats engaged in political debates sparked Ben Shapiro's speech on campus. (Amy Dixon/Assistant Photo editor)

Protesters and individuals wearing "Make American Great Again" hats engaged in political debates sparked Ben Shapiro's speech on campus. (Amy Dixon/Assistant Photo editor)

About 150 individuals attended a protest against a speech by a conservative commentator at Bruin Plaza on Monday.

Several student groups, including Socialist Students UCLA and the Young Democratic Socialists at UCLA, organized the protest in response to a lecture by Ben Shapiro at Ackerman Union. Shapiro, who was invited to campus by the Bruin Republicans, graduated from UCLA in 2004 and is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website.

Protesters chanted, “It isn’t a debate when you’re just spreading hate” and “Nazis go home,” while marching around Bruin Plaza and along Bruin Walk. Several protesters also held signs saying “Racists, sexists, anti-gay! Right-wing bigots, go away!”

Tala Deloria, an organizer for Refuse Fascism UCLA, said the group held the protest because its members think Shapiro’s speech hurts marginalized communities on campus. She said she thinks Shapiro is xenophobic, racist and sexist, and added she thinks he has made controversial statements in the past, including saying that transgender individuals have a mental illness.

Henry DeGroot, a fourth-year political science student and organizer with Socialist Students UCLA said the group organized the protest to demonstrate that most students do not agree with Shapiro’s rhetoric. DeGroot added he thinks UCLA broke with campus policy in paying for the event’s security costs after facing pressure from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal organization.

“This is not really just about one small chapter of Bruin Republicans. It’s about the whole right-wing establishment organizing a cultural war on campuses,” DeGroot said. “We’re here to say that this is coming from the outside, that most students don’t support this and that most students are calling for progressive values, not for anti-gay bigotry.”

Attendees also included counterprotesters and individuals observing the event.

Carol Cruz, the vice president of College Republicans at Pierce College, brought her group to the protest to interact with and learn from the protesters.

“I think that it’s great that people are exercising their right to protest. But I do feel a bit concerned that a lot of (Shapiro’s) quotes are taken out of context,” Cruz said. “As someone who listens to all of Ben Shapiro’s podcasts, I can tell you there are a few words to those sentences that would change the meanings.”

Several individuals who said they supported Shapiro and wore “Make America Great Again” hats got in arguments with the protesters. Some also filmed protesters on their phones, and began chanting “show your face” when students said they did not want to appear on camera.

One individual asked the crowd of protesters if they did not like him because he is white after they yelled profanities at him. Some Shapiro supporters then told students to go back to their parents’ basements as student protesters began to leave Bruin Walk.

Arthur Schaper, a member of Los Angeles County for Trump, said he protested to stand up for free speech.

I’m fed up with kids being indoctrinated with everything like cultural Marxism,” Schaper said. “(Students think) everything is bad, and people don’t have a right to speak.”

Several students and alumni said they participated in the protest because they did not agree with Shapiro’s views.

Teyahja Wysinger, a first-year business economics student, said the event made her feel unsafe on campus.

“I feel like I’m going to be targeted now from people that don’t even belong here,” she said. “UCLA should be a safe space for everyone.”

Daniel Phelan, a graduate student of structural earthquake engineering, said he thinks Shapiro’s views on LGBTQ individuals can endanger those individuals on campus.

“He is so vehemently against and spewing hatred of (LBGTQ) groups,” Phelan said.

Luna Hernandez, who graduated from UCLA in 2017, said she thinks students should protest against conservative views and speakers.

I think it’s very right that students are out here protesting (against) someone who upholds white supremacy, ” she said.

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City and Crime editor

Coneeny is the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the City and Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for the National News and Higher Education beat. She is a second-year pre-global studies student from the east coast.

Daily Bruin News contributor
Editor in chief

Preal is the editor in chief of The Bruin. He was previously the assistant news editor for the city and crime beat and a news reporter for the city and crime beat.

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  • Sura Tewolde

    Shapiro, though insensitive and aggressive as he is, has a right to speak, and students have the right to protest. I see no wrongs being done by either party. If anything, this has started a dialogue between students on campus about tolerance and progress.

  • BruinAlum

    Kudos to Carol Cruz for trying to engage others with different viewpoints. If everyone approached these issues with an open mind and a bit of calm, real learning and engagement could actually occur.

  • Publius

    I can’t believe they allowed people who don’t agree with me to speak at UCLA. Opinions other than my own are literally rape. We are too good and too enlightened for those people with differing opinions, which is why it is better to cower and not debate them.

    Nevermind that Trump was elected because people feel like they are too good to engage with other people with differing views — my echo chamber is my safe space, and I need one because I’m special and better than you.

  • pointvicente

    Arthur was articulate and had persuasive arguments with statistics. Its obvious from watching and listening to his opposition that all rationale thought has gone out the window in favor of sympathy for those feeling oppressed. The truth is the current laws in place are sufficient along with the policies in place to prevent further bullying and discrimination. That is why we need to drop the transgender issue and focus on real issues like what is happening to our most vulnerable in society the elderly and the unborn. This is where we need to preserve the dignity of life not dispose of it because it is inconvenient and difficult. It is sad to see so much hatred and disrespect from UCLA students. They remind me of the kid riding the bicycle on the street. (google Andy Griffith bicycle on sidewalk).