Students at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School protested and attempted to shut down a lecture on free speech by accusing the speaker of holding racist views and belittling his commitment to the rule of law.
Josh Blackman, a newly tenured professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, was invited to campus by the CUNY Law School Federalist Society, and had prepared a lecture on free speech. Three days before the event, the president of the Federalist Society chapter informed Blackman that a group of “enraged” students intended to protest his lecture but assured him that he had the administration’s full support.
“These students saw first, that this is a Federalist Society event; and second, they saw a few of your writings (specifically a National Review article praising Sessions for rescinding DACA and ACA), and instantly assume you’re racist; and third, our event being titled about free speech is reminiscent of events that claim free speech just to invite people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter,” the chapter president told Blackman.
Upon arriving at the event, Blackman was met by dozens of law students shouting phrases such as “Legal objectivity is a myth” and “He’s a white supremacist,” according to his account, which is corroborated by a video of the incident.
Most of the protesters were carrying signs with messages espousing their support for social equality and assigning racist motives to Blackman.
One sign read “conservative hate ≠ intellectual debate,” while another suggested the Federalist Society “was founded to uphold white supremacy.” Another student held a sign reading “constitutional originalism = white supremacy.”
When Blackman tried to begin speaking, the protesters shouted “f**k the law” and other incendiary slogans.
A school administrator then entered the room and informed the students that they would be punished if they continued to obstruct the event. The heckling continued after the administrator left as Blackman attempted to explain the nuances of his position on immigration policy.
At one point the protesters targeted a black student who was there to hear the lecture. The student responded, “I’m not white” after one of the protesters accused Blackman of white supremacy. One protester responded by asking “Then why are you here? Why aren’t you with us?” The black student explained that while he did not agree with Blackman’s views, he wanted to ask difficult questions and engage the Blackman in civil debate.
Eventually, the hecklers left the room and went to the Dean’s office to complain about the event while the students who were there to hear Blackman speak remained and had an hour-long discussion with him.