Nonviolent Protest at Ben Shapiro's UCLA Visit
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro visited University of California, Los Angeles at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13, to host a speaking event titled, “The Rise of Campus Fascism” at the school's Ackerman Grand Ballroom. Saying, "it's good to be back on campus," the UCLA alumni attended the event in spite of wide demonstrations protesting his presence, which he said, "make me feel welcome. Not as welcome as, come to think of it, last time I went here, so nothing has changed it seems."
Shapiro was referencing the “Rally Against Hate” that took place right outside the ballroom to protest his speaking event. The Young Democratic Socialists of America at UCLA and the Socialist Students at UCLA organized the rally, having distributed fliers through campus stating, “Tonight, Bruin Republicans are using your student fees and tuition dollars to host Ben Shapiro, a racist, anti-LGBTQ+ speaker. Come out and show your opposition to the right wing bigotry on campus!”
UCLA students and those protesting the event engaged in differing levels of discourse with Trump supporters in attendance. “Sorry, if you don’t like it, go to your safe space. I’ll yell wherever I want to, lady!” said Trump supporter John Willis to the crowd of students. Willis was with two other Trump supporters that The Corsair spoke to previously at two protests earlier this year.
The protestors had differing points of view and perspectives. Although Cameron Fells, a current UCLA student, disagrees with Shapiro's beliefs, he did not attend the rally to protest Shapiro’s presence on campus.
“I disagree with everything Ben Shapiro says, but he has a right to say it," Fells said. He went on to say, “There’s an entire group of people calling him a Nazi and calling him all sorts of degrading names, which he’s simply not. He just says some things that these people disagree with, and they think they have the responsibility then to call him a Nazi and get him shunned from campus, which I don’t think is acceptable.”
Josiah Schaffer, from Orange County sporting a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, spoke to people with both similar and opposing views after the event ended. Having attended the event, Schaffer immediately said in an interview, “First of all, I support free speech and I do agree with most of Ben Shapiro’s talking points and what the kinds of things he believes in.”
Schaffer was pleasantly surprised by a lot of the liberals attending the conservative speaker's event. When asked what his favorite part of the event was, Schaffer responded by stating, “[The liberals] asked questions and I thought that was cool, people were engaging with different points of view and no one was arguing or fighting, I thought that was really awesome.”
Kosi Ogbuli, another current UCLA student, said although he cannot speak for everyone who were present, he did make clear why he attended.
“We’re not in a place that we could waste time just yelling at each other [or] waste time yelling at the other side, because then it’s not going to help anything, because they’re so cemented in what their values are," Ogbuli said. "It’s a matter of us coming together to be unified in our goals and our directive in terms of what we want to do to make change.”
The event closed with no accounts of violence.