A stink bomb greeted audience members at former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' talk Wednesday at a chapel on the campus of Amherst College in Massachusetts, the Amherst Student reported.
The campus paper said an "unknown person deployed" the stink bomb as listeners were entering Johnson Chapel and taking their seats.
Sessions was picked as attorney general by President Donald Trump but resigned last November at Trump's request. The president had criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian collusion investigation.
Five minutes into Sessions' talk — which was planned by the Amherst College Republicans — nearly 70 students stood up and exited in a coordinated walkout, the paper added, noting "their cheers and shouts were marked with exhilaration. One student waved a rainbow pride flag."
The Amherst Student said more than half of the chapel was empty after the walkout.
The paper noted that protesters then headed to a quad where the Direct Action Coordinating Committee and other groups had tables with food and drinks waiting.
The Amherst community demonstrated against former attorney general @jeffsessions in a variety of ways on Wednesday,… https://t.co/ZhfyBKsgEP— The Amherst Student (@The Amherst Student)1556202691.0
"No justice, no peace! No racist police!" the protesters chanted, the paper added. "Ain't no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don't stop!"
Student Samantha Schriger noted to the paper that Sessions doesn't deserve a platform to speak anywhere.
"I attended the walkout because I wanted to join in a collective with my fellow students and take a stance ... we're fighting for the world we want, and Jeff Sessions stands for one world, one very much in the past … and another world is possible," she told the Amherst Student. "The goal of the walkout was to basically leave Jeff Sessions' world and enter a different world where we can engage in activism in the valley."
The following statement was read aloud by a DACC member after the walkout, the paper said:
"When Amherst College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation, went out of their way to invite Sessions to this campus, they knew very well that the action was one of power, not of free speech. We suspect that they intended to provoke students of color to react in such a way that would paint student-organizers of color as aggressive, fitting neatly into the narrative that has vilified racialized bodies in this country for centuries. We oppose not only Jeff Sessions, not only the Amherst College Republicans and not only the Young America's Foundation, but the global system of white supremacy which created them, which funds them, which feeds them. We stand firmly against global hierarchies that attempt to maintain themselves through the veneer of 'free speech' rhetoric. We stand for the power, the sanctity and the love of every human being. And we decry the cowardice, on this campus and off, which allowed for Sessions — and those like him — to continue waging a war on marginalized people."
Professor: Amherst shouldn't have allowed Sessions event
Thomas Dumm, a professor of Political Science, told the Amherst Student that the private college should have nixed the Sessions event and added that he penned a "strongly-worded email" to Amherst President Biddy Martin about it.
"This is a man who is a racist and misogynist, a person who served in Trump's administration and promoted policies having to do with separation of parents from children," Dumm told the paper. "He promoted policies that would continue mass incarceration, who promoted policies that would continue to deny women the right to choose in regards to abortion, who generally followed the path of an extremist. I thought this was something that was wrong."
Dumm also called on colleges to take a stand against the Republican Party, the paper said: "Academic freedom is different than simple free speech. People are trying to treat the current Republican party of the U.S. as though it is part of a traditional bipartisan divide in terms of ideology, and it's not … It is a party that has gone down the authoritarian rabbit hole, and to the extent that people do not realize or recognize it or speak as loudly as they can against it, this country is in serious and deep trouble."
What did the president of the College Republicans have to say?
ACR President Rob Barasch told the paper he respects the right to protest but wishes those against the Sessions' event had "more of an open mind." He added to the Amherst Student that it was wrong for protesting students to reserve tickets and not show up.
"By engaging in this protest, you're not allowing other people to hear what Mr. Sessions' views are, and I think that's not okay," Barasch added to the paper. "I think that goes against our values, of trying to be open-minded, of trying to listen to viewpoints that aren't your own."
The College Fix)