If you haven’t heard about the violence at Virginia Commonwealth University yesterday, then buckle up — because it’s bad.
Pro-lifers came to speak at VCU and were promptly shouted down by VCU students and then physically assaulted by Richmond Antifa.
This is what happens when our nation glorifies harmful ideologies, refuses to prosecute evil-doers, and closes down open discussion. Antifa (so basically fascists) tried to silence us with their assaults @VCU. pic.twitter.com/XXsGRlcW6n
— Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) March 29, 2023
Kristan Hawkins with Students for Life of America visited the campus at VCU at the invitation of their student affiliate group as part of their nationwide tour.
Just days after a transgendered woman opened fire and killed 6 people — including three nine-year old children — Richmond Antifa and transgender activists decided to repeat their violence without consequence.
The “Lies Pro-Choicers Believe” Tour ended with police breaking up the event scheduled for Virginia Commonwealth University after Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins and Student Ambassador Isabel Brown were shouted down while trying to speak on campus about the misinformation commonly preached by pro-abortion zealots. “Antifa came for a fight,” said Students for Life of America Executive Vice President Tina Whittington who attended the event.
Witnesses to the event noted that many of the protesters were not VCU students at all, but known members of Richmond Antifa groups:
.@VCU police just allowed violent abortion activists to shut down @studentsforlife speaking event.
Police stood by & watched.
At least one pro-lifer was injured. @VCU is required to protect speech as a public university but just halted an event at the demand of a mob.
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) March 29, 2023
As a series of altercations unfolded, a number of pro-life students and SFLA staff were assaulted resulting in several complaints filed and EMTs called to the scene to treat injuries. Autumn Walser, president of Students for Life at VCU, received an injury to her leg while a fellow student suffered cuts and scratches from aggressive protestors clawing at her.
SFLA Documentarian Kevin Feliciano who was recording the event was blocked and struck with signs to prevent his work recording the protestors. He also filed a complaint.
The violence was captured via Instagram, and it is 10 times worse than how it could possibly be described. More alarmingly, VCU Police forced SFLA to evacuate to another room for two hours.
How did VCU Police handle Richmond Antifa?
We were then escorted into a locked room for about 2 hours for our own “safety” while violent protesters walked free & stood in line for Chick fil A (oh, the irony). We took questions from pro-life and pro-choice students alike both in the midst of the insanity and in the locked…
— Isabel Brown (@theisabelb) March 30, 2023
The assaulted party had to sit in lockdown, while Richmond Antifa celebrated their deeds with a chicken sandwich.
While this is not the first time that Antifa has protested Hawkins, it was the most violent. SFLA campus team members recognized professional Antifa agitators in the crowd because they have shown up at other events, egging on protestors in the crowd. Protestors carried signs for Black Lives Matter and Transgender power, using them to sometimes assault those in the crowd who were recording the chaos.
It was the most violent because Antifa knows that in Richmond — and at VCU specifically — there are few if any consequences for violent behavior.
In fact, Richmond Antifa — again, many of whom were not VCU students according to eyewitnesses — celebrated their actions and stalked pro-lifers in the even they emerged from lockdown.
Speaker Todd Gilbert: “VCU must do a better job”
“The incident at Virginia Commonwealth University yesterday is another sad episode of free speech being shouted down on college campuses across our nation. The behavior and actions of the students opposed to the pro-life speakers is appalling. So was the reaction of university officials who shut down the event, rather than protecting the free speech of those invited to campus.
“College campuses are supposed to be crucibles of free speech and debate. It is where we are challenged to think for ourselves, defend our ideals, and develop different and better understandings of the people around us. What we are seeing on campuses across the nation, and now in Richmond, are students intentionally insulating themselves from challenges to what they believe and instead, demand an echo chamber that validates what they already believe. This does not prepare them for life after college.
“Students who matriculate from our public colleges and universities should be prepared to intellectually engage with the world around them in a constructive way. Shouting down speakers with whom you disagree accomplishes the opposite. VCU must do a better job of protecting the rights of those who speak on their campus while teaching students to engage with ideas they find objectionable.”
Set aside the two arrests made for a moment (both of whom were non-VCU students). The problem here is that free speech and the free exchange of ideas were not respected in even the slightest degree.
Gilbert’s wider point — that Virginia’s colleges and universities should be preparing students for a complex and diverse world — is being passed over entirely. Pointing towards the two arrests doesn’t fix the root problem of intolerance and the culture of intolerance at VCU.
Violence is Not Free Speech; VCU Owes Answers
Once again, the violence is being justified by Richmond Antifa. Once again, an institution receiving public funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia makes acceptable violence against certain viewpoints while going out of their way to excuse the perpetrators.
This is unacceptable in any form.
Will there be any further arrests? VCU Police certainly know the individuals who were in the room — and allowed them to treat one another to chicken sandwiches after the fact. The very fact that VCU Police permitted these violent actors to telegraph their punch and then proceed to execute upon the violence they said they were going to inflict should astonish any casual observer.
More alarmingly, is this the sort of person a VCU education produces? Would you send your son or daughter to such an institution knowing that if they express the wrong opinion or have the wrong faith, there is a likelihood that they will be physically assaulted? Or where, rather than deal with the culture, they simply point to a couple of arrests in order to ignore the wider problem of intolerance?
Because that is VCU’s reputation at present. SFLA simply received the treatment that Richmond Police have been receiving for years at the hands of VCU leadership:
What SFLA endured isn’t just a one-off problem. VCU has tolerated the problem for far too long without leadership. Will it change?
Must Speaker Todd Gilbert insist?
You Attract What You Tolerate
As for Kristan Hawkins and the team at Students for Life of America, they aren’t backing down anytime soon:
“Silencing the peaceful people because of fear of the loud and violent makes us all less safe,” said Hawkins. “We will be back to ensure that free speech truly exists at VCU.”
As for the modern-day fascists who comprise Richmond Antifa, this sort of violence is what the Nazi Brownshirts used to do in the 1930s. If your cause has any merit, coercion is the last thing it should require.
Instead, we get one more reminder why Antifa is more -fa than anything else.
Even violence, so it seems.
VCU at present is insisting on making a dividing line between the two Richmond Antifa who were arrested and the students themselves. This misses the point entirely. The behavior of those in the room and the chilling environment — in fact, the encouragement to violence in substitution of the free exchange of ideas — is the problem.
Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth University has a decision to make. Are its core values in line with intolerance and violence? Or is it in the best traditions of the liberal arts curriculum — the “crucibles of free speech and debate” as Speaker Gilbert so eloquently states. Is basketball more important than discourse?
Act quickly, VCU.