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U of MN students protest hate speech on campus

By Skyler Dorr

Anti-women ‘gamergate’ defender Milo Yiannopoulos slammed

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Minneapolis, MN – More than 70 students, staff, faculty and community members protested a speech titled “CALM DOWN!! Restoring Common Sense to Feminism” delivered by journalist Milo Yiannopoulos at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Feb. 17.

The protest, organized by Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota with help from groups such as Asian and Pacific Islanders for Equity and Diversity and Whose Diversity? opposed the presence of Yiannopoulos’s misogynistic hate speech on campus paid for by university funds. The U of M allocated funds to the hosts of the event, the Minnesota Republic. The Republic is the paper affiliated with the student group Students for a Conservative Voice, which also were granted roughly $80,000 in student service fees by the university for the 2015-2016 school year.

Milo Yiannopoulos grew in fame chiefly for his response to Gamergate, a controversy in which a group of men referring to themselves as Gamergate began harassing women who demanded a change in the overwhelmingly sexist video game industry. The instances of harassment included doxing (a form of online harassment), threats of rape and death threats. Yiannopoulos became a major figure of the controversy with his 2014 online essay defending men’s rights to harass and threaten the lives of women and claimed the video game industry to be under attack by an “army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners” who are “lying, bullying and manipulating their way around the Internet for profit and attention.” Students for a Democratic Society argued that his violent speech against women and in defense of sexist violence is hate speech.

Activists at Rutgers University confronted Yiannopoulos in protest on Feb. 9 after the Rutgers chapter of Young Americans for Liberty invited him to speak. Despite Yiannopoulos’s claims against the existence of rape culture, the Rutgers activists, primarily women of color, have received death and rape threats.

In an interview filmed by activist Kaila Boulware, Rutgers University student Nyuma Waggeh addressed the ‘free speech’ issue explaining “Well, we also have the right to speak our opinions on certain issues, and we’re exercising our right to freedom of speech.” Waggeh goes on to cite Yiannopoulos’s denial of the rape epidemic on campus as well as his transphobia as examples of his hate speech.

Coordinated with the SDS protest outside of the Humphrey School, within the talk itself, where 250 people were seated, members from the local branch of the International Workers of the World led a disruption with air horns and shouts. Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside around 5:30 p.m., chanting “Yiannopoulos out of Minneapolis,” “Trans lives matter,” and “They say calm down, we say sit down,” referencing the title of the event.

Later on, after protesters were locked out of the Humphrey School, SDS led a march around West Bank campus into the tunnels as an alternative route, leading to a short confrontation with chants outside the tunnel-level doors into the building. Campus police then locked down that half of campus, demonstrating the tremendous impact of the action.

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