A protest against “Campus Clash” will take place Tuesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. on Fairfield Way, just an hour before event itself begins.
Protest Hate at UConn-Storrs, led by the Connecticut branch of the labor organization Industrial Workers of the World, a non-UConn affiliated group. The protest is in response to the actions of the right-wing group Turning Point USA and their event “Campus Clash at University of Connecticut,” Aaron Stephens, an Industrial Workers of the World member and admin of the Connecticut branch Facebook page, said.
“It is clear to [Industrial Workers of the World] that the political project known as [Turning Point USA] is an attempt to carve-out a far-right political space to justify and rally support for the xenophobic policies of the current United States government and its programs of intensified ethnic cleansing of the last two years,” Stephens said. “Normalizing these things with no regard for how such rhetoric incites white terrorists domestically and abroad presents an imminent danger to innocent people everywhere.”
“Campus Clash” will be hosted by Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk and communications director Candace Owens. Owens became popular after she posted a video in which she dismissed white supremacy as a narrative created by the media following the events of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, according to Media Matters for America.
Turning Point USA reached out to work with other college groups for an organized protest; however, UConn College Democrats and Youth for Socialist Action are refused to work with Turning Point USA, UConn Turning Point secretary Christopher Robitaille said.
Stephens said the members of Industrial Workers are protesting Turning Point USA and “Campus Clash” because they believe Turning Point’s views are too similar to Identity Evropa, an alt-right group associated with the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville that posted fliers on UConn Storrs campus in March 2019.
“We find their agenda very much akin to Identity Evropa, who we similarly denounced when they too targeted UConn with their propaganda recently,” Stephens said. “UConn is obviously a high-value target to the fascist movement, and we do not intend to allow that to continue unchallenged.”
For the protest, Stephens said that Industrial Workers of the World are hoping to give the UConn community a safe opportunity to speak against Turning Point USA’s hate speech.
“We also hope to shed light on how the Herbst administration and the UConn Police are acting as fascist collaborators by giving them the full draconian protection of the university, and subjecting attendees to a deeply invasive and heavy-handed regime, ironically, to crack down on those who use their free speech to counter hate speech on their campus in order to protect this alt-right safe space,” Stephens said.
While the Industrial Workers of the World have not taken a position on discouraging people from attending “Campus Clash,” they will support however people decide to take a stance.
“On general principle, we believe that any reasonable person should consider themselves anti-fascists, and regardless of whether people raise their voices against fascism on a picket line or from the audience of a fascist event, we will stand with them in total solidarity,” Stephens said.
UConn Muslim Students Association, UConn Students for Justice in Palestine and UConn Bangladeshi Association will be holding a joint protest for “Campus Clash” at 6 p.m. the same night.
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.