A Black Lives Matter debate at the University of Michigan was overrun Tuesday by a group protesters who alleged the debate was racist, bigoted and harming progress of race relations.
The debate was being hosted by the University of Michigan debate club and was debating the topic: "Black Lives Matter is harmful to racial relations in the United States."
According to the College Fix, which first reported the news, the crowd of protesters numbered as many as 450. They stormed the debate hall chanting, holding signs and stomping their feet — effectively ending the debate.
The crowd of protesters also laid on the ground to conduct a "die-in" demonstration. In addition, they would shout over any debate participant who dared to speak up, the Fix reported.
"You’re irrelevant [because] you’re white," one protester was captured saying to a man who attempted to speak.
After nearly an hour of protesting, debate leaders chose to end the debate because it could not continue as planned.
"We are underrepresented by people like you who are of privilege and won’t let us talk. What’s the point of open dialogue then?" protester Raenell Williams shouted as the debate moderator banged the gavel to close the debate session.
"For me, the reason I commented and decided to protest was because I don’t believe it’s fair for someone who doesn’t attend our meetings, isn’t involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and is privileged to decide whether or not our movement is harmful to race relations in the United States," she added in an interview with the Fix afterward.
Despite the debate group's attempt to host the debate as planned, they had been facing pressure from the university from the beginning. According to the Fix, the student government even got involved, preemptively issuing a statement saying the debate would "devalue the #BlackLivesMatter movement" while "forcing" the university to once again "confront bigotry."
Following the protests, the campus newspaper's editor, Deion Kathawa, took to Facebook to voice his concerns that the university is stifling free speech, labeling the student government "small-minded."
"[The student government] has acted in a pathetically small-minded way, taking sides when they ought to represent all students’ interests — including their right to assemble and engage in political speech, especially in such an acrimonious and divisive election cycle,” Kathawa wrote, according to the Fix. “The student government has decided that it’s a good idea to effectively denounce a debate on a topic because some people feel triggered that it’s happening, on a public university campus."
Protesters on the University of Michigan campus also stormed a presidential debate watching party hosted by campus conservatives Monday night, according to the Fix.
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