A pair of New York state lawmakers blasted the "chaos" on the campus of the State University of New York at Binghamton after leftists defied police and shut down a conservative event Monday.
Student protesters disrupted and ultimately shut down a speaking event on campus featuring conservative economist Arthur Laffer, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump in June, the Times Union reported.
One video of the incident shows a student disrupting Laffer's speech by hollering, "We are tired of being oppressed, and we are tired of getting murdered by this administration!" a reference to the Trump administration, adding that Laffer supports a "liar."
I’m disgusted by the chaos we’ve witnessed erupt across the @binghamtonu campus over the past several days. Our col… https://t.co/t388pz19aq— Senator Fred Akshar (@Senator Fred Akshar) 1574133059.0
Seconds later, the student was handed what appears to be a bullhorn equipped with a light that apparently began shining to the front of the room. When individuals supporting the speaker got up and attempted to block the light, the protesters erupted in mocking laughter.
As police began to move in, the protesters quickly created a wall to protect their comrades, and things get tense fast as students got in cops' faces and refused to leave the venue. They howled in protest when cops pulled one student off the top of a desk where he was standing.
Leftist protestors at Binghamton University disrupt and eventually shut down a @yaf lecture from economist Dr. Art… https://t.co/PPeQumb0IX— Daily Caller (@Daily Caller) 1574135671.0
The school said in a statement that the student using the bullhorn was arrested, along with another individual who tried to interfere with police.
In response, Republican state Sen. Fred Akshar canceled a planned visit Tuesday to the school.
“I'm disgusted by the chaos we've witnessed erupt across the Binghamton University campus over the past several days," Akshar said in a statement he posted to Twitter. "Our college campuses should be places where ideas and peaceful discourse can be shared freely by all individuals, no matter their differing politics or opinions."
He added: "Like many campuses across the country, it appears that leftist mob mentality and brute force intimidation have been given preference over free speech and the right to peacefully assemble."
Noting that Laffer had to be escorted out of the venue for safety reasons, Akshar also said "it's become clear to me that Binghamton University's campus has become no longer suitable for civic engagement" and that he will be "canceling my appearance."
Republican state Assemblyman Doug Smith on Tuesday said the school "should be ashamed," and that he's following up on the issue with his colleagues in the state legislature, the Times Union said.
What else did the college have to say?
The SUNY Binghamton statement on the incident added that it "took several proactive steps to manage the event following announcement of a planned disruption," including moving the speech to a larger venue over safety concerns, giving demonstrators an adjacent lecture hall for their own "speak-out," and deploying a "large number of police."
The school said it was "incredibly disappointed with the events that happened tonight," as protesters chose to "infringe on the expressive activity of others and to prevent those who wished to hear the speaker from doing so."
The statement added that the college is investigating student organizations and individual students "who encouraged or participated in any activity that violated applicable law and university policies continues. The University reserves the right to pursue appropriate charges or disciplinary action against those organizations and individuals as relevant information is confirmed."
The incident came just days after a leftist mob converged on two conservative students trying to promote their club on campus.
The prior incident was part of a larger protest involving hundreds of students protesting conservative groups at SUNY Binghamton last week, and even taking conservative groups' posters and physically removing their recruitment tables, the Times Union said.
Protesters got so out of hand that police were eventually called to the scene to maintain order — not that it did much good, as protesters reportedly turned on responding officers and shouted "no justice, no peace, no racist police."
The Binghamton College Republicans said in a statement that they were "verbally harassed" and "threatened and intimidated" by protesters, the Times Union said.
In response, Assemblyman Smith — a ranking minority member on the chamber's Higher Education Committee — sent a letter to Binghamton President Harvey Stenger asking what the college would do to promote free speech and "diversity of political opinion," the paper added.
"Our State University campuses should be laboratories of free thought, expression, and dialogue," Smith wrote on Facebook, according to the Times Union. "Instead this administration has lost control and enabled a complete breakdown of political discourse on campus. They are doing a disservice to every SUNY Binghamton student and family."
"Instead of removing the disruptors, the university chose to escort Laffer out of his own lecture," the foundation stated, according to the outlet. "The university's use of a heckler's veto violates the students' constitutional rights."