RALEIGH — Both the Young Democrat Socialists of America and an Antifa-offshoot called Smash Racism Raleigh protested an event on the NC State University campus last week. Days before the event, the two groups were also involved in an incident that led to a conservative student, son of U.S. Congressman Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), being hit in the face with spray paint.
The event, called “Culture Wars,” featured Lara Trump and was sponsored by Turning Point USA, a nonprofit founded by conservative Charlie Kirk in 2012. The mission of the organization is to “combat liberalism” on college campuses and to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom.”
Skye McCollum, a third-year student at NCSU and co-chair of activism for the YDSA, told the school newspaper that free speech events like Culture Wars are “violent.”
“It’s been directly tied to violence, and violent speech could put a safe learning environment on our campus at risk,” McCollum told The Technician. “The university says that it upholds that it will have free speech as long as it does not impact a safe learning environment. We’re trying to say that this kind of rhetoric does impact our safe learning environment.”
Before the event, in NC State’s “Freedom of Expression” tunnel, members of McCollum’s YDSA and at least two individuals affiliated with Smash Racism Raleigh confronted, and allegedly assaulted, a conservative student with spray paint.
The student, Jack Bishop, told NSJ that his group was painting messages to advertise the upcoming Culture Wars event when around two dozen individuals showed up and began spray painting over his group’s efforts, hitting Bishop’s jacket, face and eye while doing so.
“It was clearly pre-planned,” Bishop said. “They came in a pre-planned effort to intimidate and censor us.”
Bishop said there were multiple altercations between the YDSA and his group. He said these tactics by the YDSA and Smash Racism speaks to a larger picture of censorship on university campuses.
“On college campuses across the country, it has become acceptable — at least in the eyes of the left — to censor free speech through intimidation if necessary,” said Bishop, who also called out the campus newspaper for failing to report Antifa’s presence the night of the event.
“I had a friend who was spat on for having the audacity to carry an American flag, and we had multiple people told that ‘we’re going to beat the hell out of you’ and ‘you’re a racist, Nazi, fascist’ etc.,” Bishop said.
Bishop said he found it ironic that the protesters outside called them bigots and racists while inside the event, co-host Charlie Kirk said white supremacists have no place in the conservative movement.
Groups like NAACP at NC State, Planned Parenthood Generation Action at NC State, NC State College Democrats and two LGBT groups joined Smash Racism and the YDSA in petitioning NCSU’s administration to cancel the event.
While many colleges across the country have canceled conservative events after similar pressure, NC State’s administration allowed the event to take place.
“I was very glad to see that they [the NCSU administration] took at least a silent stand supporting freedom of speech,” said Bishop. “I am very glad at the way they handled things and that they didn’t kowtow to the left and didn’t cancel the event.”