LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of student demonstrators at Cal State University Los Angeles on Thursday blocked the entrance to a theater where conservative Ben Shapiro gave a speech on “when diversity becomes a problem” in a protest so rowdy that several shoving matches ensued and many guests who sough to attend the event were effectively prevented from doing so.
The crowd of student protesters choked the theater lobby, and when someone would try to access the door to the speech, a group of rowdy demonstrators in front of the entrance would hold up their hands and form something like a human wall, chanting “no violence” over and over. No guests were able to enter through the front.
“Racist go home!” and “No hate speech” were among the many chants the group called out as they continued their stand in front of the door. Several shoving matches unfolded between demonstrators and supporters, but the pushing never escalated into a full-blown battle and the physical altercations only lasted about 10 to 15 seconds.
Shapiro was secretly escorted into the venue via a back entrance, and once the crowd in the lobby learned of it, several protesters rushed to the back of the building and blocked that entrance, too. Shapiro gave his speech to a largely empty theater, although they managed to get a couple dozen guests inside and it was live-streamed.
At one point the fire alarm was pulled, prompting some in the lobby to disperse. But a large crowd remained. It’s unclear whether the situation was a fire hazard. Police monitoring the scene did not attempt to remove the protesters, nor did they aid guests in gaining admittance.
Students and adults supporting the speech were aggressively confronted by protesters who shouted in their faces. It was hosted by the student group Young Americans for Freedom, and some of its representatives who wore shirts identifying themselves had demonstrators yell in their faces with name-calling and arguments.
“He called us animals,” yelled one black female student, suggesting that is something Shapiro has said in the past. “F*ck that.”
Posters touting the event had been ripped off walls and replaced with signs stating “When Diversity is a Solution.” Other chants the crowd favored included “our school!” and “unity of the majority.”
When Shapiro’s speech was over and those inside the theater sought to leave, they were prevented from doing so safely until the crowd dispersed, Young America’s Foundation officials told The College Fix.
“Today, leftists at CSULA led a violent effort to censor Ben Shapiro, the only conservative speaker that has visited their campus in recent memory. This is a profound and sobering moment for our country,” YAF officials stated in a news release. “We are tragically witnessing the end result of decades of unchallenged liberal coddling of students on campuses across the country. This is the tipping point.”
Cal State Los Angeles had initially canceled the planned speech by Shapiro earlier this week after students objected to his appearance and organized a counter-protest to, in their words, promote “the value of safe spaces, the importance of naming microaggressions and oppressions, and the language of social justice.”
University President William Covino had said they wanted to reschedule Shapiro for a panel discussion with a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity to “better represent our university’s dedication to the free exchange of ideas and the value of considering multiple viewpoints.”
But at the last minute, Cal State’s president changed his mind, saying: “My decision was made in the interest of safety and security. I am disappointed that Mr. Shapiro has not accepted my invitation to speak in such a forum. He has indicated that he will come to Cal State LA to speak today at the University-Student Union Theatre, where he was originally scheduled to deliver his talk. I strongly disagree with Mr. Shapiro’s views. But if Mr. Shapiro does appear, the university will allow him to speak. We will make every effort to ensure a climate of safety and security.”
Breitbart News reports that several dozen students Thursday evening staged a sit-in at the office of the university demanding Covino resign for allowing Shapiro to speak.