Controversial YouTuber sparks protest at University of Minnesota

One arrest made after an anti-fascist protest at the University of Minnesota.

Payton Mansfield, Reporter

An estimated 200 protesters rallied against speaker Lauren Southern at the University of Minnesota Wednesday, Oct. 25th.  

22-year old Southern, a conservative journalist and political commentator, is known for her controversial views regarding modern feminism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and immigration laws. She has over 370,000 subscribers on YouTube and is said to be part of the alternative-right political party. Southern was hosted by Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow Minnesota – University of Minnesota.

A line of police officers, campus security guards, and eventually, a swat team, were called to stand between protesters and the entrance to Southern’s speech.

The crowd held various signs suggesting Southern to be a Nazi. One sign read, “Make WWII count,” along with a banner reading, “Follow your leader” with an illustration of Adolf Hitler. Protesters chanted, “No cops, no KKK, no racist USA,” and, “Nazi scum, off our streets!”

Many of the protesters outside Anderson Hall associated themselves with Antifa, short for anti-fascist. Antifa members often cover their faces with bandanas, scarves, or masks, in order to protect their identities from the media.

One protester, who asked to remain anonymous, said the media contributes to many misconceptions about the organization. They said Antifa mainly consists of “loosely affiliated individuals” with “no greater structure.”

They also said that Antifa has a reputation for being violent because of the media’s bias. Since police have more control over sending reports to media outlets, they tend to paint protesters as the instigators.

“They just leave out the fact that the fascists started it.”

According to the protester, Antifa members often use their cell phones to videotape disruptive individuals and “expose who supports fascist ideology.”

The protester said Southern is responsible for “some pretty heinous shit” and that students should not be obligated to welcome her presence on campus.

“We shouldn’t be giving these speakers a megaphone to project their ideology,” they said. “By protesting, we’re utilizing our own free speech.”

Nick Rebel, a senior at the University of Minnesota, walked by last minute and saw police officers keeping students and protesters from entering Anderson Hall. While Rebel is not a fan of Southern, he says people who disagree with her should focus on asking questions or having a dialogue.

The protests are “giving much needed attention to this YouTube star who doesn’t matter, who’s ideas aren’t new,” said Rebel. “Shouting at each other is not working.”

Over the course of the event, one arrest was made, and officers used chemical irritants three times to break up fights. There were no known injuries.