Retired Army Colonel’s Appearance At University Erupts With Protestors

A campus protest allegedly turned violent after a conservative speaker hosted an event called "America is not racist."

By Erika Hanson | Published

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campus protest

Heated protests continue to surface on college campuses across the nation. While campus protests are quite normal and have been a part of the college experience forever, the days of civil discord are fast fleeting. Last week, a controversially named event sparked debate among students at the University of Buffalo, and it has left a divide in the college, as reports of violence breakthrough.

See some of the footage caught on video below.

The event in question was called “America is Not Racist – Why American Values are Exceptional.” Held on campus last Thursday, April 7th, the event was promoted by the college’s conservative student group, the Young Americans For Freedom (YAF). The guest speaker at the event was Allen West, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and former Republican congressman from Florida. Given the name of the event, it was met with controversy from young liberals, who eventually erupted into campus protest. 

According to reports from a local Buffalo station, Fox11 News, Therese Purcell, the events organizer and president of YAF, spoke of the horrors she witnessed that evening. Purcell says that the campus protest against the event began around 2 p.m. regardless of the event’s later 7 p.m. start time. According to her, a group of about 100 people was seen parading through the university’s halls, disrupting classes. But Purcell says that things took a nasty turn after the event ended.

After a heated Q & A session at the end of West’s appearance, Purcell told reporters that the guest was escorted by police to his vehicle to avoid the angry campus protest mob. After walking back to her car herself, Purcell says she was targeted. “The protestors surrounded me. They started screaming ‘Go get her! Follow her! The girl in the red dress is leaving!’ About 200 of them started to sprint after me” she said.  Speaking with Fox News, Purcell said that some protestors attacked her friend and fellow member of the YAF group. At that point, Purcell says she hid in a bathroom and called 911, afraid for her life.

campus protest

When Purcell was questioned about whether or not she recognized any students at the campus protest, she told Fox11 that UB’s Black Student Union (BSU) president, Josie Nimarko, was among the protestors. Fox11 reached out to Nimarko, who denied taking part in the protest. “I don’t understand where these allegations came from. I don’t even think she knows what I look like to claim I was there allegedly with the crowd,” said Nimarko. Furthermore, Nimarko cleared up any confusion surrounding the protest, saying the BSU members were in the crowd, however, the protest was in no way organized by the group.

Siding with the campus protest, Nimarko didn’t believe bringing the Colonel to campus under an even titled that way was an appropriate way to have an open dialogue conversation about race issues. “If Therese is serious about having open dialogue, the best way to go about it is to reach out to some students on campus, maybe even reach out to the BSU or the democratic students on campus to try and have this conversation, but not to just spark outrage and post ‘America is not racist,’ knowing that that might provoke some people,” she said. 

As brash as the claims are regarding the campus protest, there have been no reports of arrests made yet. The University of Buffalo released an official statement in regards to the event. They are conducting a “thorough review” of the event, along with activities leading up to, and after West’s appearance, including an investigation into the posting of an anonymous social media message threatening students protesting West’s speech along with allegations of harassment afterward. 

Regardless of what side you take, the campus protest sheds light on a growing issue seen in colleges and universities around the nation. More than ever, civil protests tend to turn ugly, and both sides are usually at fault. But oftentimes, heated feelings can lead to wrongful allegations. And as the culture war rages on, the problem will likely get worse.