Harvard students plan mass protest against Stephen Bannon’s appearance at university conference

Protesters say that the prestigious university should not be a ‘platform for racists’

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The Independent US

Almost 1,000 students and campaigners are planning to protest the arrival of Breitbart executive chairman turned Donald Trump’s chief strategist at Harvard’s political conference.

Stephen Bannon, who has been widely criticised for his white supremacist news platform, is expected to attend the three-day conference in Boston alongside Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

The Harvard alumnus is not expected to give a speech but is listed on the program as a confirmed participant, alongside dozens of journalists and campaign advisors, according to the student newspaper.

At the time of writing, 949 people have said they are going to the event, called “Protest Stephen Bannon and Trump Advisors at Harvard”, on Facebook.

The organisers wrote on social media that the protest would be peaceful.

"Trump brought racist ideologues into the mainstream. By treating this situation as normal, Harvard is normalising what Bannon stands for. We do not accept hate and bigotry as normal or legitimate. Come peacefully protest. Then help us organise."

Harvard Kennedy School officials defended their decision to invite Mr Bannon to the institute of politics’s conference, which has been held every four years since 1972. 

Dean Doug Elmendorf will tell attendees on Wednesday, as reported by the Boston Globe, that guests are welcome even if their actions of words "are abhorrent to some members of our community or are in conflict with the values of the Kennedy School itself".

He added: “In fact, the school takes no positions on specific issues in public policy beyond those directly relevant to the School itself, so we never endorse speakers’ or conference participants’ views, and we deliberately invite guests who represent a wide range of views on many issues.

"Moreover, the school stands proudly and firmly for its values as an institution: We believe resolutely in the worth of each person regardless of their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and other characteristics, so we support inclusiveness and reject prejudice."

Mr Trump has also defended Mr Bannon, claiming if he thought his chief strategist-to-be was a white supremacist he would not have hired him.

The discussion about the campaign at Harvard will be aired on CNN on Sunday evening.