Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Northeast
One People’s Project reports from Penn State, where on Monday hundreds converged to shut-down the millionaire neo-fascist founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes.
A planned event on Monday that was to feature the founder of the neo-fascist Proud Boys was shut down just minutes it was supposed to start in the wake of escalating tension from protests outside the hall and by far-Right event attendees who attacked protesters with pepper-spray.
The event was titled “Stand Back and Stand By,” which is a callback to what then-President Donald Trump said to the Proud Boys from the stage during a 2020 presidential debate and was to feature Gavin McInnes, who founded the group in 2016. There were calls to cancel the event out of concern for safety as well as anger that the event was being paid for with tuition dollars. University officials chose to allow the event to continue citing free speech.
You can see the proud boy and a cop do a mutual backslap as the proud boy runs off from the crowd he just mass assaulted. The proud boys do the violence the cops wish they could, rushing into crowds of students and beating and spraying them. The cops and the PBs go hand in hand. https://t.co/CjaZ86B61S
— Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club (@EFJBGC) October 25, 2022
Police guarded the Joab L. Thomas building as hundreds of counter-demonstrators, the majority of them Penn State students, amassed outside two hours before the event was supposed to begin. There were chants and speeches given by students for at least an hour, and the gathering remained peaceful until event host Alex Stein, who promotes himself as a professional troll, was allowed to step outside the building and provoke the crowd. The counter-demonstration then became a shouting match between Stein and protesters, with the exception of someone spitting on him, there was no escalation, which Stein himself said “Frustrated” him. Stein was accompanied by members of Uncensored America, the organization that hosted McInnes, and several supporters including Christian Watson who is trying to make a name for himself as a conservative commentator. After fifteen minutes, Luca Miraldi, the Penn State student who secured the funds from the University for Uncensored America to host the event, beckoned Stein to come back inside the building.
According to the blog Extremely Bad, Uncensored America was founded by Sean Semanko, who graduated in 2020 but is still involved politically on campus. He was had served as secretary for a right-wing group calling itself Bull Moose Party that saw a split regarding support for Trump that year because some members felt he didn’t fulfill campaign promises he made. The following year Semanko served as President for the Penn State chapter of Turning Point USA and hosted British misogynist Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin. To date, Uncensored America has hosted neo-fascist speakers such as one time Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who resigned from that position after comments surfaced of him seemingly condoning pedophilia, and Elijah Schaffer, who was recently fired from Glen Beck’s media outlet The Blaze, in light of sexual assault allegations.
I hope PSU students get to learn about the last five years of anti-fascist organizing in class, when protesters confronting the “alt-right” in the streets effectively dismantled much of that movement.
Just an ahistorical statement from the school president. https://t.co/yhciJDnoRy
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) October 25, 2022
After Stein went back into the building, the protest began moving back and forth between two entrances to the building. Eventually Proud Boys showed up and some fighting ensued with someone who was standing with the Proud Boys, pepper spraying a number of people. There were some arrests, but at the time of this posting, police have not released more information.
Just over a half-hour before the event was to start, campus officials announced that they were canceling the event, prompting cheers among the protesters. “Due to the threat of escalating violence associated with tonight’s event, Penn State University Police determined that it was necessary to cancel the speaking event in the interest of campus safety,” campus officials said in a statement. Police also came out to announce the cancellation to the crowd, as Stein, McInnes and Miraldi ran to their car and fled the campus.
“We got the fuck outta there!” – Gavin McInnes pic.twitter.com/koP2rC1hUU
— Idavox (@IdavoxOPP) October 26, 2022
Many wondered why the event was even sanctioned by Penn State to begin with, citing how officials barred Richard Spencer to speak there as part of a college speaking tour he embarked on. This came not long after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, where counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed after rally attendee James Alex Fields plowed his car into a group of people, Spencer, an organizer of the Unite the Right rally requested to speak on campus that fall, but then-University President Eric J. Barron said in a statement, ”(T)he First Amendment does not require our University to risk imminent violence,” and that “There is no place for hatred, bigotry or racism in our society and on our campuses.” A subsequent lawsuit was dismissed a few months later after the organizer did not respond to a request by the judge to explain why the lawsuit should continue.
Similar calls to prevent McInnes from speaking on campus were heard over the past few weeks, with those opposed citing the Proud Boys’ role in instigating “critical breaches” of the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack last year, which has led to several criminal investigations and convictions for the group and it’s members, seditious conspiracy among the charges. The Proud Boys are seen as a terrorist group in New Zealand and a “terrorist entity” in Canada. McInnes, who is from Canada, has regardless been allowed to remain in the United States, his supporters saying he has obtained U.S. citizenship.
This text has been slightly edited for readability and grammar.
photo: Screenshot via Idavox