COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX)- Hundreds of demonstrators surrounded the Memorial Student Center on Texas A&M’s campus Tuesday to protest the visit of a prominent white nationalist.
The protests were mostly divided into two groups – a silent gathering and a more lively, vocal, and larger gathering.
The purpose of the protests was to send a strong message to the rest of the world about diversity on a campus that already struggles with a reputation of racism.
“Especially as a minority. I’m half Mexican and half black and I’ve never felt so myself, as a minority, until I came here to A&M ” said Natalie Zarate.
“There are certain Aggies who may not accept us, but we have to be one,” she said.
Zarate protested the speaking event featuring Richard Spencer inside the Memorial Student Center, along with others including students, non-student, locals and some who came here from Austin, Dallas and Houston.
The protests remained peaceful for most of the evening, but it quickly turned tense when protesters stormed into the lobby of the Memorial Student Center.
Inside the building, they tried to push past state police in riot gear and into the ballroom where Spencer was already preoccupied with protesters who attended his speech.
Outside the MSC a very small group of men expressed support of Spencer’s visit to Aggieland, and they were also met with resistance and for a few minutes the heated verbal exchanged turned physical with pushing and shoving in the crowd.
Eventually all the protesters were escorted from the building. Two were taken into custody, but it’s not clear what they were accused of doing or what they could be charged with.
Shortly after 9:00 p.m. DPS troopers began pushing the demonstrators away from the MSC and by 10:00 p.m. the crowd mostly cleared the area.
National and international media were in the mix, and that was the most upsetting part of all this for many students.
“The media is giving this man a platform for his hate speech,” one student said into a microphone to the crowd.
Others were happy to know the world was watching A&M’s unity thrive in the face of hateful rhetoric by an outsider.