Saying no to hate

By |2007-10-11T09:00:00-04:00October 11th, 2007|News|

by Todd A. Heywood
Capitol Correspondent

EAST LANSING — About 100 students gathered at the Rock on the banks of the Red Cedar River Monday to say no to hate speech on MSU,Aeos campus.
The students were protesting Young Americans for Freedom — a student group that has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — because they say YAF is creating a hostile environment on campus by hosting speakers who are anti-gay, anti-immigrant and linked with white supremacy groups.
“This type of speech makes immigrants evil, and that gets internalized and effects our well-being,” said Seirra Lopez, an MSU student.
Following a series of speeches at the Rock — a traditional gathering place on the campus — students marched across campus to Conrad Hall, where YAF was hosting Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
During the march, students chanted, carried signs and took over an entire lane of traffic on Wilson Ave.
Krikorian was on campus to discuss illegal immigration. He said his point was immigration was bad for our country.
“We are allowing 19th century immigrants into a 21st century economy,” he said before the speech.
Statistics from the Department of Homeland Security showing occupations of immigrants for 2005, show over 100,000 immigrants were in management, over 500,000 did not work outside the home (of which over 300,000 were students or children), and nearly 65,000 were employed in the service industry. (Source: www.dhs.gov/)
When the protesting students arrived at Conrad Hall they stopped about 100 feet from the entrance and formed a large group. About 50 remained from the original march. Following a brief meeting with MSU police, the protesters entered quietly and sat down.
There were 6 identified members of Young Americans for Freedom seated in the front row, and Jeff Wiggins, former YAF and College Republicans chair and currently an employee of the Leadership Institute, who was seated to the left.
The protesters sat quietly and when Krikorian was a few minutes into his speech, the students stood up and walked out quietly.
The protest contrasted a similar anti-immigration forum hosted by YAF in April. At that time, YAF brought in Chris Simcox, leader of the Minutemen Civilian Defense Corps. Protesters chanted loudly and were eventually kicked out of the lecture hall. Five Hispanic students were arrested.
MSU police had five uniformed officers and 4 security officials on duty at the hall, searching all people entering their and bags.
“What I just saw adheres to the tenants of responsible dissent,” said MSU spokesperson Terry Denbow who was present at the protest. “I think this brand of protest effectively can send a message of dissent, and I personally consider it effective.”

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