Protesters at TSU prevent state representative's speech

After dozens of protesters filed into an event at Texas Southern University featuring House Representative Briscoe Cain, they wouldn't allow Rep. Cain to speak, claiming he has ties to the Alt-Right and is anti-LGBT.

HOUSTON - There was controversy on the Texas Southern University campus right before the cancellation of one lawmaker’s speech Monday.

After dozens of protesters filed into an event featuring House Representative Briscoe Cain, they wouldn’t allow Rep. Cain to speak, claiming he has ties to the Alt-Right and is anti-LGBT.

Rep. Cain was invited to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law by the Federalist Society to talk to the students about the recent legislative special session. Instead, the event was shut down before it even started. 

“No hate anywhere, you don’t get a platform here!" protesters yelled inside the room.

The words echoed through the classroom.

“When a racist comes to town, shut him down," they continued.

That was the mission of the student protesters: shutting down Rep. Cain, who was invited on campus by student Daniel Caldwell.

“It appears that many of you have comments, questions or concerns that you’d like to take up with him," Caldwell said to the students while at the podium.

No comments, questions or concerns were ever voiced, however. Rep. Cain tried to speak, but his words were lost below the chants.

“No hate anywhere. You don’t get a platform here!" the chant continued.

Eventually, the protesters were removed.

As silence filled the room, Rep. Cain finally spoke his first few words, but was cut off again, this time, by TSU President Dr. Austin lane.

“Officers, to the students out in the hallway, let them in," Dr. Lane told the police officers.

Lane announced organizers did not take appropriate measures to schedule the speech.

“What you’re seeing today is an unapproved event," Dr. Lane said.

So it was all over -- for now. But Caldwell says he did everything right.

“I know, for a certainty, that I followed every step required for our handbook," said Daniel Caldwell, Student Chapter President for The Federalist Society.

As for the accusations against Cain, “That’s either ill-informed or an outright lie," Caldwell said.

Protesters said Rep. Cain has ties to the Alt-Right, and is against the LGBT community, filing an amendment that denied funds for sexual reassignment surgery for inmates.

They say nothing was going to shut them down.

“He just stands for hatred and bigotry on a scale that isn’t deserving of a place or platform here at TSU," said protester and Thurgood Marshall School of Law student Justin Tolston.

“He’s anti-woman. He’s anti-LGBT. He’s trans-phobic, and so if he is actually against the existence of people and their right to exist, then no I don’t agree with all sides and it becomes more than a political issue. It’s now an issue of justice and human rights, and so I had to be here," said protester and Thurgood Marshall School of Law student, Nneka Akubeze.

Other students say they just wish it was done differently.

“I would’ve heard what he had to say in order to challenge his stand, because now he's moving on to the next, and we haven’t educated him on our perspective and where we come from," said Thurgood Marshall School of Law student Preston Strickland.

Organizers say they invited Rep. Cain to the campus to talk about the recent special session in the legislature..

Rep. Cain immediately left after the event but has responded with this statement:

"Today I attended an event scheduled by the TSU chapter of the Federalist Society a few months ago. I was greeted by campus officials, given a guest parking voucher, and brought into a room in which the administration had specifically requested the talk occur. Then Black Lives Matter came in and bullied the administration into ending the event. It's a sad day for universities across Texas whenever speech and a variety of views are prevented from being presented due to bullies."

The university also released the following statement in response to the event:

"Texas Southern University welcomes free speech and all viewpoints on campus as part of our collegiate experience. Today’s event, which was scheduled at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, ended early because it was not a registered university student organization event.

"Our campus is open and welcoming to all state and elected officials. TSU President Dr. Austin Lane was meeting with a state senator when he received word of the event at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Dr. Lane went to the event to see State Rep. Briscoe Cain, students and faculty, and then learned that it was an unauthorized Texas Southern University student organization event. Our vice president of Student Affairs has since met with the student organizer and informed him of university procedures.  Several events have been cancelled in the past on campus because procedures were not followed.  We welcome the return of any guest speaker for deliberative dialogue on our campus in accordance with university procedures."

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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