A speech from right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren at the University of New Mexico ended in chaos on Thursday night, as a large crowd of student protestors prompted state and campus police to shut down the event and evacuate guests.
“They had a group of leftists acting like typical leftist antifa,” Ms Lahren said on Friday in an interview with Outkick. “And unfortunately the University of New Mexico doesn’t seem to care, not only about my safety, but about the safety of their own students, and left us all barricaded in a room with basically rabid banshee animals trying to bust down the doors to get to us.”
The event’s organisers, conservative student group Turning Point USA, described the crowd as a “violent leftist mob” that attempted to force their way past police officers into a lecture space in the Student Union Building, while the university’s Daily Lobo student paper described the demonstrations as non-violent. No students other than ticket-holders made it inside the speech space, the paper reported.
The University of New Mexico told The Independent in a statement the event was disrupted only after Mr Lahren was done speaking, at which point protestors knocked a hole in drywall in a nearby wall and a “fire alarm was pulled unlawfully.”
“Participants and the speaker were not in danger during any portion of the event,” the university added. “The speaker was safely escorted off UNM property. All participants were safely escorted by police through a back exit to their vehicles.”
No one was injured during the event.
Video from the event shows demonstrators both chanting peacefully outside the speech, and a smaller group pounding on doors being held closed by police and event staff.
Multiple students of colour told the Lobo that they were denied entry, despite having tickets.
“Pretty much I was the first person of colour to try to get in and then immediately after two white people came in and (the event organizers) said, ‘They look normal, they can go in’,” student Tyler Jacobs told the paper.
The university said it is investigating the complaints.
The Independent has reached out to Turning Point USA for comment.
No sole group has claimed responsibility for the protests at Ms Lahren’s speech.
Demonstrators held signs that included phrases like “UNM has no room for racists” and “F*** white supremacy,” and chanted slogans like, “Shut it down,” and, “F*** Tomi Lahren.”
Prominent conservatives condemned the protests.
Texas senator Ted Cruz called what happened “disgraceful.”
“Yet another university ignores and condones leftist violence and censorship,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Ms Lahren is a lightning rod for controversy.
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