Just ahead of Turning Point USA’s “Back the Blue” rally, Clemson students held a protest outside of Littlejohn Coliseum. The protest began at 5:00 P.M., and remained peaceful throughout.
Over two hundred protestors made it out to the event, where they were allotted a fenced-off area in which to safely protest. Many made signs promoting Black Lives Matter, others denouncing the university.
Lahren’s visit to campus has been a hot button issue for nearly a month, receiving national media coverage from outlets like FOX.
Protestors say they are unhappy with the university allowing more polarizing speakers on campus. The protest was organized by representatives from several groups, including Clemson College Democrats. One such organizer is Uchenna Ofoje, a junior anthropology major.
“Clemson is clearly not helping to amplify our voices.” said Ofoje, “so we are amplifying our own.”
“This was a student organization sponsored event by Turning Point USA at Clemson,” said a university spokesperson. “They did an admirable job putting on an event given the polarization of the content. Just like these people outside are protesting, the people inside are allowed to speak. So far it has been very civil.”
Sarah-Grace Chrisly, a senior psychology and women’s studies major, stood at the entrance to the protest area and instructed protesters in COVID-19 safety. Protestors were provided with hand sanitizer, water bottles and were required to wear masks at all times.
“We were trying to incite change rather than incite arguments and violence,” said Chrisly.
Other students found issues with speakers Tomi Lahren, Brandon Tatum and Graham Allen. Many students held signs promoting Black Lives Matter, and many referred to a quote in which Lahren said that “BLM is the new KKK.”
Students were not the only protestors at the event. A Spartanburg resident and 2008 Clemson alumnus who went by Kevin came with his friends to support student protestors. When he graduated, he says that Clemson was more conservative, and he is excited to see students coming out to support Black Lives Matter. He said that people could not have worked together like this when he went to Clemson, and that social media is a fantastic tool for change.
Taylor Rogers is the Vice President of TPUSA and helped to plan and execute the “Back the Blue” event.
“If you’re here to protest, that’s your choice,” said Rogers. “You can protest if you want to. That’s one of the greatest things we have in America, the ability to protest.”
With the event beginning at 7:00 P.M, protesters left around 7:30 P.M.