News and Commentary

Heat Street: ‘Violent, Vitriolic’ Crowd Descended on Shapiro Cal State LA Speech

The day after the near–riot precipitated by Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro’s speech at Cal State Los Angeles on February 25, university president William Covino implied to his students that much of the culpability for the violence should be pinned on conservative students, as Heat Street reports.

That claim was a lie, as documents comprising 1,000 pages of records obtained by Heat Street now clearly delineate.

Not only was there clear evidence before the event that the leftist protesters would make trouble, the day of the event, they clearly were responsible for the near-riot that ensued. Roughly 150 leftist protesters blocked entrances to the event, barricaded the doors from outside, thus trapping Shapiro and his listeners inside, and pulled on a fire alarm; a Breitbart reporter was threatened by a protester who said he would “beat the piss out of you,” and Shapiro had to be escorted out to his car by a police cordon. Police reportedly told those who managed to get inside the auditorium to listen to Shapiro’s speech not to leave the auditorium because of the high risk of violence.

As reported here, administrators had been worried about Shapiro’s speech, titled, “When Diversity Becomes A Problem,” for months. On Feb. 5, the University’s director of the Department of Public Safety sent a memo requesting additional law-enforcement, writing, “While there are no specific threats to the campus or our students or faculty at this time, there have been postings with overtones of violence from supporters and detractors of the event.”

The university could not obtain insurance for the event; on Feb. 16, a representative from Alliant wrote, “Unfortunately, due to the nature of the lecture I would need to pass on this one.” The University’s director of risk management admitted he had been “unable to obtain additional insurance beyond what [Shapiro] brings with him and our own [general liability] program.”

Threats before the event abounded; a Facebook user posting under the name Zamaria Xomez wrote on the event page advertising Shapiro’s speech, “All I’m going to say you chose the wrong campus. Get ready. We don’t play.”

Cal State LA sociology professor Robert Weide boasted he would fight the conservative students, calling them “tough guy provocateurs … We have an open mat on campus in the gym in the USU building at 1 p.m. Friday and Noon on Saturday if you want to show us your white supremacy. Heads up though, I lift bro…” Weide also posted that this was “your opportunity of a lifetime” to “choke one of your anti-fascist professors.”

Administrators received emails noting Weide’s threats; one email from February 21 read, “Faculty member ROBERT WEIDE has been exhibiting bizarre behavior by tearing down posters advertising a guest speaker’s appearance on campus … WEIDE has escalated his bullying and badgering by confronting students and threatening them… WEIDE has resorted to name calling describing members of the Young American for Freedom (YAF) as White Supremacists and Nazi’s. He has publicly challenged students associated with the YAF to a physical fight. He has publicly threatened others with physical violence.”

Another student who claimed not to be a conservative pointed out after the event where the culpability truly lay; he wrote about “a student group being bullied by a violent mob on campus,” adding that Young Americans for Freedom, which sponsored the event, didn’t make the situation unsafe; “it was the violent vitriolic mob who showed up to oppose their right to peaceably assemble.”