ANTIFA “marks” and attacks CFACT students but fails to stop Lauren Southern talk at U of Minnesota

Photo: Anaya Mishra, Minnesota Daily

Lauren Southern talks to a packed room about free speech.

Multiple CFACT students were “marked” and assaulted by masked ANTIFA protesters outside a talk given by Lauren Southern, a conservative and libertarian Canadian political commentator, author, journalist, and Youtube sensation. Southern was hosted by the CFACT club at the University of Minnesota to discuss the evils of socialism and the importance of protecting free speech.

“The protesters started peacefully enough,” remarked Adam Bowen, a junior. “They even had a 4 piece marching band that was actually really good.”

Masked protesters waited, however, until some of the police presence had died down after the talk by Southern concluded. They then proceeded to mark and ambush departing CFACT students. Mitch Bendis,

Protesters gathered outside the event holding signs and attempting to prevent attendees from entering the talk.

responsible for live streaming the event, was ambushed by a half dozen masked ANTIFA members as he left the venue loaded down with a large and expensive video camera and a box of event supplies.

“Things got ugly after the event,” said CFACT adviser Bill Gilles. “The police were doing a great job of protecting the area around Anderson Hall, but masked ANTIFA members on bikes were tagging event attendees then bringing in large groups of masked ANTIFA to harass and assault people as they walked away from the hall.”

While at first the protests were relatively peaceful, they soon grew violent against CFACT students. (Photo Anaya Mishra, Minnesota Daily)

The masked protesters blocked the students’ way and started taunting another student, Nathan Amundson.  They attempted to push Nathan to the ground and he was punched by one of the protesters in the shoulder.  Since the masked protesters couldn’t reach Mitch, they spit on him and stole CFACT’s banner out of the box of supplies.
“We were sitting ducks,” explained Mitch Bendis. “Soon we had a group of at least six protesters following us, filming and harassing us. I elected not to feed the trolls and continue minding my own business. Then, I felt a big gob of spit hit the back of my head. One of them spit on me. Before I could comprehend what happened, they shoved me and I nearly fell…I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, my friend called the police and that scared them off.”
“The attacks were not random.  Event goers were tagged and then coordinated ANTIFA assault teams descended on small groups of attendees,” noted Mike Ziebarth, CFACT club president and a sophomore at UMN.

Event attendees at the beginning of the talk, eager to hear Southern speak. Photo: Lauren Southern

Over 250 people showed up to protest the event, which started out by chanting, holding signs, and harassing those attempting to gain admittance to Southern’s talk. Things began to turn violent the longer the night went on, though. In another area, a group of about 6 event attendees were departing in front of Mike Ziebarth and Bill Gilles, CFACT club president and adviser, respectively. Masked protesters then grabbed one of the female attendees and started punching and throwing her to the ground.  The male attendee nearest to her was also attacked and tackled to the ground by two masked protesters.

An ANTIFA girl on a bike who had “tagged” these event-goers pulled out mace and started spraying the other attendees.  At this point a police

Southern explains the evils of socialism to the packed room at UMN.

officer ran up and sprayed mace at the combatants and the victims in their grasp.  More officers ran in and tackled 3 or 4 of the masked protesters.

While initial reports had said that only 1 individual was arrested, that total should go up to 5 or 6 once those reports are revised.

Another CFACT student, Anders Koskinen, was blocked by a short, white protester who got in his face and and made angry remarks including calling him a “nazi.” The actions attracted dozens more protesters, who started harassing Anders and prevented him from entering the talk. One protester then reached into Anders’ front pocket and ripped his keys out of his pants as he attempted to pass.  Thankfully the keys were tossed in a place that Anders was able to retrieve them once he got through the gauntlet.

Police were able to prevent protesters from entering the talk and disrupting Southern’s speech. One of the highlights of Southern’s take down on socialism: “Capitalism, with all its many flaws, which I do admit exist, are a hell of a lot better, than [socialism’s] five hour bread lines and no iPhones.” You can watch the full talk, here.

Photo: CBS Minnesota

CFACT’s own David Blondin was featured on CBS Minnesota leading up to the event. “For any real progress to be made socially, you have to have a free market place of ideas, and that government intervention saying that ‘oh no you cannot speak because of this’ is just creating inefficiencies that just hinder us from making any real progress.”

CFACT will continue to fight for the First Amendment rights of all individuals, whether that be on college campuses or beyond. It is clear that ANTIFA thugs, who resort to violence to silence their opposition, are afraid of their ideas being debated in a free sphere.

CFACT will cooperate with law enforcement to make sure that if there are any possible avenues of pursuing legal action against those who assaulted CFACT students, it is pursued to fullest extent of the law.