The University of North Texas has finally responded after a Young Conservatives of Texas event was disrupted Wednesday by black-clad protesters, forcing police to hide one conservative student in a closet before escorting her to safety.
UNT President Neal Smatresk said in a Thursday evening statement that UNT Police had created a plan to ensure the safety of the event “because conversations surrounding the student organization’s event, which focused on criminalizing healthcare for transgender children, have been contentious.” The event featured Jeff Younger, a political candidate and father of a young boy whose mother claims the child is transgender.
According to Smatresk, police requested advance assistance from both Denton Police and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Based on the event space capacity and for safety purposes, the room was limited to 80 attendees,” he said. “A few hundred protestors gathered outside the building, holding signs and chanting. The police agencies tasked with maintaining public safety were inside and outside the building. DPS officers were staged at a nearby location as an extra safety precaution.”
Police believe the protest escalated from a peaceful protest to an “aggressive encounter” due to a small group of protestors not affiliated with the university, the president said.
“These actions culminated with a group of protestors swarming police, who were working to safely escort both the guest speaker and student organizers off campus,” he continued. “DPS was called in to assist with maintaining safety.”
“A group of protestors surrounded the police vehicles containing both the student organizers and their guest and attempted to block their exit from the scene by banging on the vehicles and impeding their movement,” the UNT president continued, describing how police officers used emergency lights and warning sirens to clear a path for the vehicles to safely exit.
“We have heard accounts of a protester who was reportedly injured during that time,” he said. “However, we do not have confirmed details of that report. While overall the event was not without incident, it did end without any reported serious injuries. UNT Police and the other supporting agencies were able to get the student organizers and their guest to safety, while also dispersing the protestors without further incident.”
The president emphasized that UNT has “always touted the importance of freedom of expression” saying that the university is proud of “students’ ability to speak up for themselves and participate in nonviolent protest.”
“UNT Police have continuously worked to create and maintain an environment safe for all students to express themselves, regardless of topic,” he continued. “As always, campus safety is our top priority, and we will continue working to provide a safe environment for our students.”
“We have always been a passionate community that stands up for our ideals, but last night’s behavior by some individuals is not reflective of the UNT I know and love,” he added.
The statement follows a report by The Daily Wire describing how black-clad protestors screamed and heckled at a college student and Jeff Younger, the father of a child at the center of national disputes over transgenderism.
Student Kelly Neidert told The Daily Wire that though she attempted to video and document everything, she feared for her life.
“Initially when we were first led out of the building to evacuate, I felt like everything was gonna be under control, but after I was chased into the building with a police officer, when we were in this janitor’s closet, I honestly was very scared,” she said.
Both Younger and Neidert believe that they were mobbed by people aligned with Antifa. The anti-fascist account “Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club” posted repeatedly about the event, warning in one tweet, “If you were at the UNT protest, no you weren’t. Be proud of what you accomplished and wary of the media hype circulating your faces.”
The account did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Wire, and Smatresk did not address whether the escalating group he mentioned in his statement was Antifa. The UNT police department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Denton Police Department did not respond to The Daily Wire’s requests for comment.
“I believe that this started over the video I posted of the student confronting me in the library because of my flyers, and once students found out what the flyers were for, everything just snowballed from there,” Neidert told The Daily Wire Thursday morning. “I also think Greg Abbott’s Executive Order regarding transgender children along with his win in the Republican primary on Tuesday also contributed a lot of the animosity and vitriol of the students/Antifa people who showed up.”
“If the stuff with Abbott hadn’t just happened, I think there still would have been protestors and outrage but not to this extent.”