Anti-feminism picket held in free speech zone at Rutgers
A small group of people led a demonstration outside of the Livingston Student Center yesterday, directing controversial messages to various groups and holding signs with statements such as “Homos go to Hell," “Muslims are going to hell” and “Lesbos can’t raise kids.”
They were met by a crowd of Rutgers students and community members who protested in opposition.
University spokesperson Neal Buccino said in a statement to The Daily Targum that the demonstration was conducted without the University's approval. The demonstration was conducted in a designated free speech area, Buccino said, and the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) deployed personnel to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff, the demonstrators and the public.
Joshua Russell, a School of Arts and Science first-year, said he heard what was happening from a friend and came from College Avenue to Livingston campus to see it unfold.
“Yes, I’m upset,” he said. “But by reacting through anger is when we validate everything they are saying. All the bad things they are saying about those in the LGBTQ community, as well as people who are feminists and females as a whole. As soon as we validate what they are saying, that’s when they have power over us.”
Russell said that while what was said angered him, responding only gives the group attention. He instead responded by handing out flyers, that said to not give the group what it wants.
“This hate group wants attention don’t give it to them,” he said. "Please walk away. Love beats hate ... that is the message that I have taken part of since coming here. We all know this is foolishness, so why are we listening to it.”
Beyza Anil, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, also handed out flyers after seeing the attention the demonstrators attracted — urging people to not join the crowd.
"Its sh*tty, its really sh*tty. More than anything it really bothers me that they have their kids with them and I feel really bad," she said.
Tom Caracappa, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, said he was protesting at this same event when it happened on Livingston campus last year. Caracappa said he would go and make jokes in the middle of the demonstration to distract and take away from what they were saying.
This year, he tried to play music on an amplifier to distract from the situation, but it was stopped by RUPD officers who were trying to keep the demonstration under control.
The music was shut down because the demonstrators would have been allowed to use a megaphone in response, Caracappa said.
Anil agreed with other Rutgers students and said that the group only wanted attention.
"(This event) says a lot about the climate of the country. I would expect this type of thing to happen on a college campus,” Anil said.