A libertarian student event at the University of Michigan was interrupted by radical activists–including at least a dozen Detroit-area high schoolers who had been deliberately misled by leftist organizers about the facts of affirmative action.
The Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian student organization at UM, invited anti-affirmative action activist Jennifer Gratz to campus to discuss race preferences in college admissions. Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action was challenged by a leftist group, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and is currently before the Supreme Court. (RELATED: Pro-affirmative action side mocked by conservative AND liberal Supremes)
YAL organizers expected BAMN members to protest the event. But what they didn’t know was that BAMN would heckle Gratz while she spoke, disrupting her incessantly and accusing her of lying and supporting Jim Crow policies.
BAMN began its protest outside the building where YAL was hosting the event. Protesters banged on the windows as the event began, but a police officer forced them to stop. Soon after, BAMN members filed into the classroom where Gratz was speaking to YAL students, waving signs and frequently interrupting her.
The protesters included an older man and woman, college-aged BAMN members who live on campus and several ninth grade kids from Frank Cody High School in inner city Detroit. BAMN organizers brought them to the event to heckle Gratz, who had to stop her speech several times because protesters were talking over her.
Though the protesters repeatedly accused Gratz of lying, it was BAMN who seemed misinformed about the facts of the affirmative action court cases.
Gratz filed a lawsuit against the University of Michigan for denying her entry under its race-based system, which heavily weighted applicants’ ethnicities as an admissions factor. Her case went to the Supreme Court in 2003, where the majority ruled in Gratz’s favor and reduced the university’s ability to consider race.
Several of the ninth grade BAMN members erroneously believed that Gratz had sued only the black students at UM, instead of the university itself. They repeated this claim in interviews with The Daily Caller after the event.
“She never sued the whites,” a female Cody student told The Daily Caller. “Why didn’t she sue the other half, the white part?”
When told that Gratz had actually sued the Board of Regents of UM, the kids repeated that they had learned from BAMN organizers that Gratz singled out black students in her lawsuit.
Other protesters accused affirmative action’s detractors of creating a hostile environment on campus for minorities.
But Gratz maintained that university administrators had attempted to salvage their race-based view so many times that the only people on campus who could possibly feel out of place were foes of affirmative action and other liberal policies.
“The administration at this school as fought for race preferences over and over again,” she said. “You cannot say that this campus is hostile.”
It may have felt like a hostile place for members of YAL, who mostly sat quietly listening to Gratz as BAMN members attempted to derail their event.
Still, YAL leaders were pleased with the event, though a protester did try to steal a YAL camera while the videographer’s back was turned.