Conservative Speaker at NYU sprayed with pepper spray, multiple students arrested

RealClear Contributor


Controversial personality Gavin McInnes caused quite a scene at NYU on Thursday when he turned up to give a speech at the Kimmel Center on campus by the NYU College Republican group. Many students weren't particularly very happy to see him.

His appearance sparked a protest by other students, including the NYU Anti-Fascists, who said McInnes "has a long track record of using incendiary language to attract media attention and frenzy." 

McInnes is the founder of a group called the "Proud Boys." He dubs himself a "western chauvinist," uses racial epithets in his essays and has argued that women make less money because they are less ambitious than men.

Before McInnes even arrived at NYU, protesters began gathering outside the building and chanting!! And as can be seen in the video above, when he showed up, they began cursing and shoving. A fight also broke out among the people who were gathered outside and McInnes reportedly got hit with pepper spray.

"There was a good deal of protesting and provocation," NYU spokesman John Beckman said. 

"I'm dumbfounded that NYU would invite somebody who is a hate speaker. He is a fascist," Tamara Fine said. 

But one student who went to attend the event said protesters took things too far.

"We just wanted to come and listen to the speaker," the student said. "As soon as we got here, a bunch of individuals came, tried to Mace us, tried to punch us several times. I've been called a Nazi."  

However, despite the violent protests, McInnes still went into the building and carried on with the event. The protesters outside then followed him into the building and began shouting over him.

At one point McInnes said he was "relieved" his attackers outside the school "were not Muslim." He later insulted the school's head of student affairs and then after about a half-hour, abruptly left.

"The decision to end the event when he did was his own," Beckman told The Associated Press. "Moreover, within the student center - to which only those with NYU IDs were admitted - there was no violence and no arrests."

And yes, Beckman was right that there were no arrests on the inside but video on Periscope and Twitter shows police vans filling up with protesters. Police said 11 people were arrested on charges including criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. No students were arrested.

McInnes said on Twitter: "Thanks for asking if I'm OK guys. I was sprayed with pepper spray but being called a Nazi burned way more."

NYU College Republican President Elena Hatib had said of the club's decision to invite McInnes, "Even though I don’t personally agree with everything he says, I think he brings up interesting conversation topics, especially for NYU and the current campus culture."

She said the club is interested in hearing his opinions on the recent election, the so-called culture wars, campus censorship.

"Students need to recognize that our members don’t always agree with what he says or many of his views, but we believe it’s important to preserve free speech on campus," Hatib wrote, adding that "people need to know he’s also a comedian and you can’t take everything [he says] too seriously." 

A rhetoric professor at Hofstra believes the heated debates could continue for awhile.

"You know, there's a lot of dissatisfaction, particularly among millenials. A lot of it came out in the campaign with support for Bernie Sanders," MaryAnne Trasciatti said. "People have really strong ideas, and they're increasingly feeling empowered to express them, on both sides." 

Source: NBC New York



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