A lawsuit has been filed against officials at California State University, Los Angeles, over a mob that tried to prevent columnist Ben Shapiro from speaking on campus.
WND reported in February when the conservative commentator and author spoke despite protesters setting off a fire alarm and barricading the front door to the auditorium, forcing attendees to use a back door.
A Twitchy post boiled down the protester’s anti-free speech antics: “‘The fascist Left’: ‘Bloviating jack—es’ try to silence Ben Shapiro at CSULA.”
The Media Research Center reported: “Right now, YAF students and staff are essentially being held hostage in the lecture hall where Ben Shapiro just spoke at CSULA by protesters who are blocking the exits. Police have told us they can no longer guarantee anyone’s safety.”
Shapiro, in a video posted by MRC, said audience members were having to be “sneaked in” through a back door because of anti-speech protesters.
“In 2016, you have to use the back door if you want to participate in free speech,” Shapiro said. “You get to block the front door if you’re a member of the left.”
He cited one of the university’s sociology professors, Robert Weide, who earlier in the week had called YAF students “white supremacists” and invited them to fight him.
Shapiro reported Weide had called campus security on students putting up posters about the event because, “You wouldn’t want posters microaggressing you.”
Shapiro reported the professor wrote on a sign outside his office: “‘The best response to microaggression is macroaggression.’ In other words, if I’m offended I get to take physical action against you. I get to be violent with you.”
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Shapiro’s speech, “When Diversity Becomes a Problem,” was supposed to be part of a free speech event organized by Young America’s Foundation.
“University officials first attempted to shut down the event,” ADF explained. “When those efforts failed, professors helped incite a mob of protesters to block entry to the venue.”
“The cornerstone of higher education is the ability of students to participate in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ on campus,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said.
“Instead, student groups and Mr. Shapiro encountered systematic and violent opposition to a free speech event promoting diversity of opinion. When public universities discriminate against points of view they don’t like, they violate both the First Amendment and a core purpose behind their own existence. This type of viewpoint discrimination cannot and will not stand.”
The complaint explains CSU-LA officials called Shapiro “controversial” and charged the students $621.50 for security. Then, William Covina, school president, sent YAF an email canceling the event and imposing his own plan for a “more inclusive event” later in which Shapiro could appear “as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity.”
But YAF held its event anyway – only to be confronted by “hundreds of protesters – aided by professors and faculty of the university.”
According to ADF, they “flooded the university’s Student Union and physically blocked access to the theater where Shapiro was scheduled to speak.”
“Professor Robert Weide made multiple posts on Facebook in which he called YAF supporters ‘white supremacists,’ compared them to Hitler, and threatened violence against them,” ADF said.
“CSU-LA unilaterally decided what ideas are permissible, in a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, and even allowed an aggressive mob to menace free speech supporters,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Hacker. “The defendants’ actions violated numerous university policies, as well as state and local laws. By blocking access to the event, the protestors created a serious safety hazard and denied our clients’ fundamental rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection of law.”
The lawsuit, in U.S. District Court for the Central District in California, names as defendants Covino and other school administrators, including Nancy Wada-McKee, Lisa Chavez, Jon Ortiz, Melina Abdullah, Luz Borjan Montalvo, Weide and Talia Mae Bettcher.
It cites multiple constitutional violations and seeks a declaratory judgment that the individuals and university violated the Constitution, broke state law and falsely imprisoned a speech attendee.