By Kaylee Lindenmuth
Assistant News Editor
A group from Matthew 24 Ministries gathered at the entrance to South Dining Hall on Nov. 30 to stage a protest.
Much like previous groups to stage protests at KU, they came to spread a message of hate toward specific groups, such as muslims and feminists.
Shortly after their arrival at around 12:00 p.m., an impromptu group of counter-protesters, many of whom were KU students, formed around the group.
One of the protesters, who chose only to identify herself as “Sister Mary,” said the reaction the group received isn’t unusual.
“It’s normal, it happens all the time,” she said.
According to “Sister Mary,” the group regularly stages protests at universities in the greater Philadelphia area, noting they had visited 15 universities already.
“Our goal is to have people repent of all of their sins so they can go to heaven,” she said.
By 4:00 p.m., the group of KU students surrounding the protesters grew in size to about 200 people. KU Public Safety maintained a perimeter around the protesters.
KU Public Safety patrol cars were stationed at Bonner, Dixon and Johnson halls, as well as in front of and in the parking lot of South Dining Hall.
KU students at the protest who spoke with The Keystone generally believed the confrontation between counter-protesters and other protesters weren’t ideal.
Overlooking the scene as counter-protesters came face-to-face with the protesters, Caroline Fogarty, a freshman KU student involved with the GLBTQ center, said “I understand where they’re coming from, but they can’t be this direct with the actual protesters. They’re giving them evidence, because they’re videotaping, to use for their base to fire people up more, and that could lead to more violence in the future.”
Fogarty was an eyewitness to the early stages of the protest, explaining that KU Public Safety had maintained the peace well, but counter-protesters had confrontations, one of whom attempted to grab a protester’s hat, she said.
The protesters included two adult males, one of whom was wearing a police-style body camera, three adult females and three young children. The group also had a digital video camera on a tripod to film the crowd.
Many KU students attending the protest took a comedic approach to countering the group, devising signs reading messages like “Bring Back Farmville,” and “Carson Wentz 4 MVP,” while groups chanted references to Spongebob Squarepants, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles victory chant.
Other KU students displayed signs with explicit content, with similar accompanying chants.
However, some came to spread a message of love and counter the message of hatred spread by the protesting group.
“Whenever I come to these things, it’s always less to antagonize them, and more to make myself an open ally to other people who made it, so my sign says, ‘You’re not alone here, I’m an ally, I’m gay and trans, and I’ll be your friend,’” said Sophomore Damon VanNorman.
“It’s a weird balance of not antagonizing them but also standing up for who you are and what you believe in, and saying ‘I’m here and I’m not going away,’” said Freshman Elliot Moore.
According to Moore and VanNorman, they had witnessed the group make comments which “should never be said by any human to any other human,” Moore said.
“There’s been a lot of incitement of violence from the protesters, which unfortunately has been acted upon by a couple of people, but overall, it’s been a big rally of ‘We love each other, we don’t love these guys, so let’s be loud,’” VanNorman said.
In an email to the KU campus community distributed on the day of the protests, Dean of Students Donavan McCargo said that there would be an enhanced law enforcement presence on campus to “protect the Constitutional rights of all persons.”
“While we must keep in mind that all individuals have the right to free speech on our campus, our university rejects all forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination,” McCargo continued in the email.
The protest lasted until roughly 5:00 p.m. when the protesters left campus.