EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: 'Build the Wall' banner 'ripped' down, left 'in shambles'
- A conservative group at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas says it had its "Build the Wall" banner torn down.
- The president of that group explained the incident to Campus Reform.
- Video footage obtained by Campus Reform appears to back up what the president said.
A conservative student group at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas says its "Build the Wall" banner was torn down and contents on its table were swiped to the ground by leftists on campus. Video footage obtained exclusively by Campus Reform appears to support the group's claim.
The president of UNLV's Turning Point USA chapter, Riley Grisar, spoke with Campus Reform by phone Wednesday about the incident, which he says was unprovoked and occurred over the course of two days: what led up to the vandalism, what happened during, as well as afterward.
"We had the booth out for like two hours," Grisar told Campus Reform, "and it was just after noon when it got a lot more hostile. Instead of just having one or two people come up, we started having a crowd approaching 100 people surrounding us. There was chanting, taunting...and I could see that it was looking like a lot of guys were going to get very hostile on the other side."
"They had groups of four or five coming up on some of our people just yelling at them, degrading them," Grisar said.
Video obtained by Campus Reform shows several individuals calling the Turning Point students "racist" and flipping them off. Grisar said this type of heckling occurred both Monday and Tuesday. Grisar said it was on Monday that leftists tore down the "Build the Wall" sign and Tuesday that they swiped the contents on the table to the ground.
"Right as we pulled out the video camera there was a person who had come up just about an hour previously just to take some pictures of themselves flipping off our sign and they had come back...and out of nowhere, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this guy run up toward me," Grisar said. "I had to get out of the way just in time. They had attacked one of our members and then attacked our 'Build the Wall' sign and had beat that just to a pulp into the ground."
"Another two...who were fighting with us earlier, verbally, came up from the side and attacked our booth itself and ripped everything off, threw everything to the ground, the flag and everything. It was at that point [that] everything was just lying in shambles on the ground...we were fearing that the entire group, the entire mob of people, was going to come in because there wasn't any police, there wasn't any security responding at the time," he continued, although Grisar added that campus police arrived on scene about two minutes later to help disperse the crowd.
"The victim stated an unknown male rushed up to the sign and tore it down and then cursed at him and left the scene," Acting Lt. Paul Volez with the UNLV Police Department told Campus Reform Wednesday. Volez said the investigation is ongoing and that the identities of the vandals are not known.
Grisar, who said he has also attended the University of California-Berkeley, told Campus Reform that he has never seen anything quite like this.
"We'd had booths out before," he said, "but we'd never seen this hostility before."
Emails obtained by Campus Reform show responses from both the UNLV Resident Housing Association, as well as the student government. Neither response condemns the actual people who tore down the sign. Instead, they weighed in on the conservative group's "intentionally divisive" message, suggesting it was not "welcoming."
"The Residence Hall Association (RHA) represents all UNLV student[s] living on our campus. Over the last couple of days there has been a group of students frequenting our campus and exercising their right to freedom of speech. Unfortunately, this speech has been used to 'build walls' rather than 'build bridges.' While RHA represents our on-campus student population, and we recognize everyone is entitled to their opinion and has the right to express that opinion, however it saddens us that such intentionally divisive rhetoric has been chosen instead of a more unifying message or dialogue," an email from RHA President Lauren Washington to residents stated.
The student government president-elect, Hannah Patenaude, sent to students a separate email, a copy of which Campus Reform also obtained, stating, "it is important that you know exactly what your representatives in CSUN support. The 'build the wall' propaganda in the Free Speech area of campus is not supported by your student government. CSUN Student Government supports the right to free speech while striving to provide a campus environment that is welcoming and secure for every Rebel."
The incident happened just weeks after conservative activist Hayden Williams was punched in the face at the University of California-Berkeley by a leftist individual whom authorities have since identified as 28-year-old Zachary Greenberg, who is facing felony charges. Following the Berkeley incident, President Donald Trump signed an executive order tying billions of federal research dollars to colleges and universities' protections of campus free speech, an action Grisar praised while speaking with Campus Reform.
"I couldn't have been more happy to see President Trump sign that order," the president of Turning Point USA's UNLV chapter said. "I think it's welcome news to a climate that's just seen constant attacks, especially since the 2016 election."