Fights break out at King’s College London as masked anti-fascist protesters storm talk

'An open and uncensored debate should be able to take place without fear of violence or intimidation,' institution says

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 06 March 2018 18:16
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Masked protesters storm alt-right talk with Carl Benjamin at King's College London

Fights broke out when a group of masked anti-fascist protesters stormed a talk by a right wing speaker at King’s College London.

Demonstrators “violently” forced themselves into the building, throwing smoke bombs and setting off the fire alarm, at the speech by controversial speaker Carl Benjamin, who is also known by his online alter ego Sargon of Akkad.

Known for his YouTube videos, Mr Benjamin is considered controversial in some circles because he is aligned with far-right individuals. He is also known for criticising feminism and identity politics.

In 2016, the father of two from Swindon made headlines when he was accused of starting a trolling campaign against Labour MP Jess Phillips.

The university said it would launch a review into the incident that saw police called into the lecture hall, which was subsequently evacuated.

Scotland Yard said no arrests were made, although video footage showed punches thrown at the event, organised by the university's Libertarian Society.

The group said it was a “real tragedy for free speech.”

“The event was meant to be academic, philosophical and open to criticism," it wrote on Facebook. "In response, an aggressive group of antifa thugs broke into the university, with what we assume is cooperation from the far-left student societies who organised the protest.

“We will not allow such events to deter us from our mission to protect free speech on campus. We will continue to actively call for a campus environment where words and ideas do not lead to violence."

Anti-fascist group North London Antifa celebrated the talk's shut down on Twitter.

“Here's alt-right mouthpiece 'Sargon of Akkad' after he was forced to leave the building, no platform for him tonight," they posted.

It is unclear whether Mr Benjamin, a vocal supporter of Brexit, who has previously described Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils Hillary Clinton, having previously stated his support for her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, will be invited to speak again.

A KCL spokesperson said: “Last night’s event, organised by King’s College London’s Libertarian Society, had to be cancelled after protestors violently forced their way into the venue.

“The police attended and we are fully co-operating with their investigation. We absolutely condemn the use of violent protest in any situation.”

They added: “Universities provide an environment for open and uncensored debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance and where people have conflicting views.

“This should be able to take place without fear of violence or intimidation. King’s takes its responsibilities to provide a safe environment for free, peaceful and respectful dialogue very seriously.

“The university and Students' Union will be reviewing the incident to decide on appropriate action to be taken."

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