A throng of angry protesters converged at Claremont McKenna College on Thursday and effectively shut down a pro-police speech as they surrounded the building, forcing the speaker to give the talk via livestream to a near-empty room as they yelled “F*ck the police” and “Black Lives Matter” and banged on windows.
Heather Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute scholar and author of the 2016 book “The War on Cops,” even gave her talk earlier than originally planned at the preppy and private Southern California campus because of the rowdy crowd estimated at more than 250 protesters, she told The College Fix via email Thursday.
Thirty minutes into the speech, police officers told her to cut it short, and she was given a four-officer escort through a side door and safely through some surprised protesters who had flanked that exit, Mac Donald said.
The chaos came just one day after Mac Donald was raucously shouted down at a similar Blue Lives Matter speech at UCLA, but that one took place in full and with a Q&A in front of a live audience.
‘Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald’
The situation at Claremont McKenna College was decidedly worse than at UCLA.
“The protesters surrounded all the doors to the Atheneum where I was supposed to speak, so none of the students who had signed up to attend my lecture could get in,” Mac Donald (pictured) told The Fix. “I was hustled from my guest suite by several police officers from Claremont PD into the lecture hall. It was decided that I would give the speech for live streaming to a largely empty hall. The organizers moved the podium so that it would not be visible through the windows to the students surrounding the building once night fell. We jumpstarted the timing of my talk as the crowd seemed to be getting more unruly.”
Mac Donald made the argument that there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that Black Lives Matter than the police, and that proactive policing has helped reduce serious crime in predominantly black neighborhoods — but that the false Black Lives Matter narrative hurts innocent black lives as police pull back and violent crime rises.
“Unless the false narrative about endemically racist police ends, we are going to see more black lives lost,” she said during her livestreamed talk as demonstrators’ “shut it down” chants echoed through the building.
Protesters organized the protest on Facebook earlier in the week, calling it “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and suggesting she pushes “fascist ideologies and blatant anti-Blackness and white supremacy. … Together, we can hold CMC accountable and prevent Mac Donald from spewing her racist, anti-Black, capitalist, imperialist, fascist agenda.”
Steven Glick, a senior at nearby Pomona College, recorded much of the protest as editor of the Claremont Independent, telling The College Fix in a message Thursday that he believes some of the demonstrators were students at the Claremont Colleges, but not all.
“Several protesters were middle-aged, and some were students at other colleges. The protesters chanted things like, ‘From Oakland to Greece, f*** the police’ and ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’ I tried to talk to dozens of protesters about why they objected to Heather Mac Donald, but not a single one could point to an issue they had with her work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Glick interviewed a student who wanted to attend the event who said he’d had water thrown on him and had his sign ripped up by protesters.
“All we’re trying to do is hear Heather Mac Donald talk,” the student said. “There’s pushing and shoving. It’s outrageous.”
Glick’s job as a student reporter was also impeded by the horde.
“Protesters tried to prevent me from conducting interviews by pushing me, grabbing me, and blocking my camera. Several protesters followed me around for almost an hour and formed a wall around me,” Glick said. “I was saddened to see that Claremont McKenna College was, yet again, so quick to give in to the protests and cancel the event. I hope that, someday, college students will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of different viewpoints on their campus.”
Mac Donald prefaced her livestreamed remarks Thursday by citing a few heartbreaking stories of young black boys murdered by gang violence in Los Angeles and Chicago, adding she hoped protesters were equally as outraged at those deaths.
“And while the protesters likely didn’t show up to these scenes of carnage, the cops did. They are the only government agency that works every day to ensure that black lives matter,” Mac Donald told The Fix.
Cops were also there to protect Mac Donald from the campus craziness.
“During my speech, the protesters banged on the glass windows and shouted. It was extremely noisy inside the hall. I took two questions from students who were watching on livestream, but then the cops decided that things were getting too chaotic and I should stop speaking,” Mac Donald said. “An escape plan through the kitchen into an unmarked police van was devised; I was surrounded by about four cops. Protesters were sitting on the stoop outside the door through which I exited, but we had taken them by surprise and we got through them.”
No one followed them to the police station.
A campuswide email sent Thursday night by Peter Uvin, vice president for academic affairs at Claremont McKenna College, offered a wishy-washy admonishment of the day’s events.
“Although 250 persons just watched the live stream, we are of course disappointed that people could not attend the lecture,” Uvin stated.
“What we face here is not an attempt to demonstrate, or to ask tough questions of our speaker, all of which are both 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 continued.
“I fully understand that people have strong opinions and different—often painful—experiences with the issues Heather MacDonald discusses. I also understand that words can hurt. And in a world of unequal power, it is more often than not those who have a history of exclusion who are being hurt by words. I support everyone’s right to make this world a better one. 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.”