Students at the College of Campus of William & Mary crashed an event organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), declaring liberalism to be a form of “white supremacy.”
Less than five minutes after it began, activists from the Black Lives Matter movement stormed the ACLU’s free-speech event, titled “Students and the First Amendment.” School newspaper The Flat Hat reported on October 2 that the disruption occurred following the entrance of Virginia Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the ACLU’s Virginia affiliate and school alumna.
Chanting phrases like “liberalism is white supremacy” and “the revolution will not uphold the constitution,” the students forced the cancellation of the September 27 event held at the “Public Ivy” school by preventing Gastanaga from speaking.
Twenty minutes into the protest, the social justice activists were offered a microphone to read their prepared statement. The Black Lives Matter students called out the ACLU for its approach to free speech, which they claim empowered white supremacists. They took issue with the ACLU’s response to Charlottesville, where it defended marchers’ rights to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
They claim that the organization offered a platform for white supremacists by defending the First Amendment.
“When is the free speech of the oppressed protected?” a BLM protester asked. “We know from personal experience that rights granted to wealthy, white, cis, male, straight bodies do not trickle down to marginalized groups. We face greater barriers and consequences for speaking.”
Students who attended the event to listen to Gastanaga’s speech criticized Black Lives Matter for its unwillingness to hold a discussion.
“I think they had every right to do what they did. I don’t agree with their method, [but] they’re completely entitled to their opinions,” said Laith Hashem ‘19. “But the thing I disagreed with most was that every opportunity they had to have a discussion, both with the speaker and the audience, they responded by increasing their volume and shouting louder.”
Following the event’s abortion, remaining students grouped around Gastanaga hoping to ask her questions. They were unable to do so, as Black Lives Matter activists began circling around the students, drowning out Gastanaga by chanting loudly.
Hashem told the school newspaper that he felt threatened by the group, which he says bordered on physical intimidation.
Speaking to The Flat Hat, school president Taylor Reveley said that their actions were “not acceptable in our community” as it prevented students “from asking questions, often hard questions, and from engaging in debate where the strength of ideas, not the power of shouting, is the currency.”
The school’s Black Lives Matter chapter later took to Facebook to brag about how they shut down the event, where they accused the ACLU of masquerading as white supremacy.
Tonight, we shut down an event at William & Mary where Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, was speaking. In contrast to the ACLU, we want to reaffirm our position of zero tolerance for white supremacy no matter what form it decides to masquerade in.
Posted by Black Lives Matter W&M on Wednesday, September 27, 2017