Conservative English provocateur and openly gay Trump supporter, Milo Yiannopoulos, spoke at CU Boulder Wednesday evening. The event drew hundreds of protesters onto the campus, who view the controversial speaker as a symbol of neo-Nazism and far-right conservatism.
However, before the event was scheduled, it appears the list of event attendees was hacked, and an ensuant message was sent to ticket holders:
“We know who you are, tonight we will know your faces. The identity of attendees will be released to the public on a list of known neo-Nazi sympathizers.”
What exactly that may entail is anyone’s guess. During his speech, Yiannopoulos projected the email and gave a NSFW response included below. (The video should start around the 13:40 mark.)
By the looks of the email, which was projected without redaction, the message originated via Hushmail, a Canadian service that allows users to send emails with the assurance of much stronger security measures. Yiannopoulos spent a portion of his talk addressing the threat to bouts of laughter from the crowd.
Outside, however, tensions erupted into violence as anti-Yiannopoulos protesters and Trump supporters (who are perhaps the most outspoken fans of Yiannopoulos) exchanged increasingly heated rhetoric. According to KDVR, Ryan Huff, a spokesman for CU Boulder, said one person was arrested for failing to comply with officers’ orders, and two people were arrested after the event for misdemeanor assault.
As Yiannopoulos was speaking on campus, activist and trans actress Laverne Cox held a simultaneous speaking engagement on another part of campus. There are no known reports of protests or violence as a result of her presence.
Among the fray of protesters outside Yiannopoulos’ event was Leighanne Gray, a student and Resident Advisor at CU Boulder.
“There were at least 50 people outside hours before he was scheduled to speak,” she tells OUT FRONT. As she is an RA, she was privy to information from the CU Boulder’s community safety officers that the event spaces for Cox and Yiannopoulos had been switched, seemingly to avoid as much conflict between protesters and Yiannopoulos himself.
“Milo was escorted in hours early,” she says. “It made the protesters even more mad at the police.” Leighanne estimates that the ratio of protesters to Trump supporters was around 10 to 1. She makes certain to let readers know that most of the crowd was “chill and respectful,” and reflects on an image of a man draped in a Confederate flag conversing with a man in a Pride flag.
However, a group clad head to toe in black while donning gas masks raised hackles in the crowd. Their anti-fascist message was clear, and Leighanne recalls her friends commenting that they were “freaked out” by their non-peaceful presence.
“They were yelling in people’s faces and trying to rile up the group, instigating things,” she says. “They wanted to people to resist the police.”
She says the atmosphere suddenly “felt dangerous.” She and friends linked arms so as not to lose each other in the bustling, energized crowd.
Leighanne then tells OUT FRONT that the group in gas masks encircled a man wearing a Make America Great Again hat. As they were pushing him, he escaped the enclosure, bumping into Leighanne.
“I put my body between the kid and the [group] and walked him away,” she says. “I told him he needs to get out, that this is not safe. I said, ‘They’re gonna f*ck you up if don’t.'”
While the group continued to scream at the young man, Leighanne says they didn’t hurl insults at her or attempt to assault her, though it doesn’t appear it would have mattered to her in that moment. “I was really just concerned with putting distance between this kid and the group,” she says stoically.
She relays the messages that were chanted throughout the event:
Trans Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter.
Latino Lives Matter.
White Silence is Violence.
“The main message I got was that people genuinely didn’t want Milo on campus,” she says. She wants our audience to know that most of the naysayers were respectful. “The super-violent protesters were in the minority — mostly people just wanted be there in numbers.”