UTSA’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) held a protest in front of the McKinney Humanities Building on Oct. 4 to express their views on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against recently appointed Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The protest came a day after a similar event at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) involving the Young Conservatives for America (YCA).
Protestors on the UTSA campus carried signs with messages such as “Confirm Kavanaugh Now,” “Kavanaugh is Innocent” and “Witch Hunt.” According to Peyton Dillberg, a junior political science major, the protest intended to show solidarity with the UT protest as well as support for Kavanaugh and due process.
A crowd formed around the YAF protestors and other students who formed a counter protest. “[They] are just gonna support a rapist with no evidence whatsoever so [they] can make controversy,” said Eddie Cruz, a counter protester and a senior art major.
Another counter protester, Mika O’dwier, an undeclared freshman, believes the protest was disrespectful to victims of sexual assault. “By them choosing to protest against the Kavanaugh hearing, it’s really disrespectful to anybody, especially women on this campus who have been assaulted or raped,” O’dwier said.
One student who chose to remain anonymous said, “I just want people to know that people who have been raped do support Trump, so the people who are out here saying that if you support Trump, you support rapists and all this, that’s not true.”
As the protest continued, tempers flared. “Some lady just tried to pull the sign out of my hand and rip it up,” said Lucas Morin, a sophomore cyber security major and YAF affiliate.
According to YAF members, counter protestors destroyed their YAF posters and property. According to Marcos Mullin, president of YAF, the counter protestors did at least $50 worth of damage to YAF property.
Dillberg said that counter protestors ripped up nine of the posters he made. A counter protester also took a YAF member’s hat and threw it to the ground. UTSA police did not intervene. At one point, a member of YAF called for a police officer to intervene since a counter protestor violently ripped up a sign.
There was also an alleged assault by a member of YAF. Allegedly, the member slapped a woman while she attempted to destroy his sign. An individual made flyers with a photo of the YAF member accusing him of battery. A flyer with the picture of the alleged assaulter was reportedly projected on a document camera in one of the classrooms in the McKinney Humanities Building. Several alterations have been investigated by the police. In a statement released by UTSA Chief of Police Gerald Lewis, there are two investigations. The first involved the alleged slapping incident.
“Based on a review of video, social media posts and interviews with students, the preliminary investigation has determined there was inadvertent and unintentional contact that does not fit the elements of an assault,” Chief Lewis said. Another incident involved a YAF member, whose hat was stolen and poster torn. In consultation with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, UTSA PD determined the hat incident is either a Class C misdemeanor or Assault by Contact, and the ripped poster as either a Class C Misdemeanor or Criminal Mischief. UTSA PD is continuing to investigate.
After the protest, President Taylor Eighmy released a statement echoing a similar one he made on Sept. 10.
“All student organizations and individual students have a right to express their opinions on campus, as long as they comply with our peaceful public assembly policies,” Eighmy said.
“That said, I understand that during today’s protest there were some students who felt unsafe, unsupported or traumatized — particularly those who are survivors of sexual assault.” He also stated that campus resources are available for students who have been victims of sexual assault. Those include the Office of Student Advocacy, Violence Prevention and Empowerment.