Well over 150 University of Connecticut students and activists from across the state gathered on UCONN’s campus on Nov. 28 to protest the UCONN College Republicans and their hosting of white supremacist Lucian Wintrich. The crowd gathered outside of Schenker Hall holding signs saying “Racism is not OK” and “Black Lives Matter” while chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!”
Wintrich, who is also the White House correspondent for the right-wing website Gateway Pundit, was invited by the College Republicans to speak on the topic, “It’s OK to be white.” The name alone is a clear signal of his white supremacist ideology. Wintrich has also said that “women’s suffrage was one of the country’s largest disasters” and makes racist, misogynist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and transphobic comments on Twitter.
Though UCONN security began refusing to let anyone into the lecture hall at one point, a number of protesters had already gotten inside. For much of his speech, Wintrich was constantly interrupted, shouted over and drowned out by the crowd. Outside, the protest grew as more people heard about the event, which had only been publicized a day before.
During Wintrich’s talk, a student protester walked up to the podium, grabbed his notes and walked away. Wintrich jumped from the stage and attacked the student from behind. UCONN police quickly escorted Wintrich out of the room. While Wintrich was still being held in the building and after police claimed he had been arrested, he was still active on his Twitter account. He was released by police shortly after; though his attack on the student was caught on multiple videos, he was only charged with 2nd Degree Breach of Peace.
Administration, liberals call for “dialogue” not protest to shut down racism
President Susan Herbst put out a statement calling for “thoughtful, civil discourse.” The UCONN College Democrats called for a dialogue on Wintrich instead of protest. An Undergraduate Student Government statement was promoted on UCONN’s official Twitter account calling for “discourse that is civil and respectful to all” while claiming to stand against racism. White supremacist, anti-immigrant, transphobic and misogynist rhetoric like Wintrich’s is a call to violence against oppressed people. It is not “civil and respectful” at all. It is shameful that UCONN is spending public resources to defend this rhetoric while paying lip service to fighting racism.
How many tax dollars did the university administration and police department spend to defend this expression of white supremacy? As student Tasha told Liberation News, “They’re more interested in protecting that window than they are about Black students,” referring to a single window that was broken during the protest. “This guy literally hates Black people and women — he hates me — and they have all these cops surrounding him, but we can’t live our lives safely.”
The actions of the UCONN administration on Nov. 28 show that it has more interest in protecting white supremacy under the guise of “free speech” than confronting racism and bigotry. While at the protest, Liberation News heard UCONN’s Dean of Students Eleanor JB Daugherty, talking with a police officer about how to “create a diversion” to let Wintrich out of the building. Minutes later, an announcement was made at the front of the building for everyone to step a few feet back so he could be escorted out by police. As this happened, the police quickly rushed Wintrich out of the back of the building, away from the massive protest. Protesters quickly caught on and followed to confront both the racist himself and the police for defending him.
We salute the UCONN students and activists who took a stand against racism on campus, as many have done across the country when white nationalists and other bigots have come to speak. Together we can stand against racism and build a movement for real liberation!