Antifa Storms Event at KCL
On the 5th of March, a university event that was intended to be a free, open debate between conflicting individuals was violently disrupted by a group of protestors associated with the Antifa movement.
Six prominent far-left student societies organised the aggressive protest against the King’s Libertarian Society debate between YouTuber Carl Benjamin, more popularly known as Sargon of Akkad, and Chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook. Their aim was to forcefully drive these speakers off campus, made clear by their Facebook event demanding the speakers stay ‘OFF campus’. Ultimately, they collaborated with thugs from Antifa in order to achieve this censorious goal.
Over the course of the evening, smoke bombs were set off inside the university building and a window was smashed. The masked thugs from North London Antifa punched their way through security and pounced on the speakers and student organisers inside the event. At this point, the fire alarms had been set off and the event had to be evacuated.
The student protesters from societies such as KCL Socialists and Demilitarise King’s did not stop there, however. They continued screaming and shouting, banners in hand, accusing the speakers of being ‘fascists’.
Of course, neither Brook nor Benjamin are fascists. Brook is perceived as hated by the alt-right and Benjamin has frequently denounced them, and declares himself to be a liberalist. On university campuses today, however, some students are sadly uninterested in presenting factual, rational arguments against the ideas of visiting speakers.
Rather than challenging ideas they disagree with through debate and dialogue, they all too frequently resort to no-platforming, shouting, chaos and sometimes even violence.
King’s seems to be a prime target for violent protests, which don’t seem to be as common in other parts of the UK. Despite frequent aggressive protests, however, the university has not taken adequate action to protect the freedom of speech of visiting speakers. King’s College London’s response to such violent protests has instead been to restrict the freedoms and autonomy of the student organisers of ‘controversial’ events.
In an attempt to appease protesters and ensure ‘balance’, student societies are often forced to have independent moderators at their events, selected and imposed by the university. In addition, societies are often required to limit attendance to students from London universities.
Most outrageously, the student union will impose a Safe Space policy on student events, which entails independent moderators chaperoning the event and printing pictures of the ‘Safe Space’ policy all over the walls of the venue. This policy gives the student union the right to shut down the event at any point if they believe the ‘Safe Space’ to be broken by offensive speech. This takes up a vast amount of resources and infringes upon the autonomy of the student organisers.
The Safe Space policy was of course active at last night’s event. It is a significant example of the increasingly paternalistic and authoritarian actions of a university student union which prioritises policing speech and emotion over safeguarding the physical safety of students.
King’s is becoming a campus where anti-free speech activists have gained the upper-hand. They have done so through violent and discriminatory tactics. This violent, disgraceful protest, which resulted in the hospitalisation of a security guard, should serve as a call to action for students who believe in free speech.
It may seem as if the tactics we have seen in California are coming to the UK. In some sense this is true, and it will be hard to entirely halt the arrival of Antifa.
Nonetheless, we will continue to support liberty and freedom on campus. Eventually, we hope to build a movement strong enough to empower a proud majority of students who value the civil discussion of ideas above screams, fire alarms and punches.
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Picture: Attendees at KCL Event