‘Silence Equals Death’: Protest Against Riley Gaines Turns Violent, One Arrested In Scuffle

(Screenshot/Twitter/Katie Skoog)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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One protester was arrested at the University of Buffalo (UB) on Thursday night outside a conservative speaker event featuring former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, the student newspaper The Spectrum reported.

Gaines, who competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas during the 2022 NCAA championships, was invited to campus to speak about efforts to “Save Women’s Sports” by the Turning Point USA chapter, according to the Spectrum. The protester, who was unaffiliated with the university, was arrested for disorderly conduct and harassment after striking a photographer. (RELATED: ‘You’re Done With Your Athletic Career’: Riley Gaines Slams Megan Rapinoe For Promoting Men In Women’s Sports)

“Thursday’s speaking engagement hosted by the UB student chapter of Turning Point USA was held without interruption. Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines spoke for just under an hour in front of approximately 100 individuals inside the Center for Tomorrow on UB’s North Campus,” John Della Contrada, UB’s vice president for communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Outside the venue, University Police arrested one person, a 22-year-old female from Buffalo, for harassment and disorderly conduct. The individual has no affiliation to UB and was released with an appearance ticket.”

The protester, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, followed a photographer while holding a poster up to the lens, according to video of the incident. He then swatted at the camera, after which he was confronted by police officers.

Nearly 50 protesters rallied outside the venue to condemn the speech, the Spectrum reported. Rayna Cooke, Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter co-chair, told the Spectrum that the protesters understood that they couldn’t prevent Gaines from speaking but that the protest could “show trans students on campus that there are people that love them, support them, care about them and will fight for them.”

Protesters held signs with various slogans that read “testosterone has no gender,” “protect trans kids,” “Jesus was trans too” and “it’s giving 1936 Germany,” according to photos taken by photojournalist Rebecca Brannon. One sign read “Cis women beat you too” — a nod toward Gaines’ fifth-place tie with Thomas in the 200-yard freestyle championship race.

“Silence equals death,” protesters chanted to attendees who were leaving the speech, according to the Spectrum.

The event was a “great success,” Gaines, also Independent Women’s Forum spokeswoman, told the DCNF.

“There were so many passionate and engaging students/community members who were ready for a call to action. They wanted to know specifically what they can do to help protect women’s sports,” she explained. “There were many protestors outside who were chanting, yelling obscene things, and being destructive. One protester was even arrested after destroying a photographer’s camera. Many had signs comparing the discrimination they faced to the Holocaust. I’m grateful for the police force and security who ensured the event would take place and that freedom of speech would be upheld. I’m confident that this event only opened eyes and changed minds in a positive way.”

Students posted flyers on campus criticizing Gaines’ speech ahead of the event, according to photos posted to Twitter. One flyer depicted Gaines as Pennywise, the character in the horror novel “It,” while a second accused her of trying to become a “political pundit” because “she wasn’t able to beat a trans woman one time.”

I’ll never understand people putting this much effort into something/someone they don’t like,” Gaines tweeted. “All for saying men and women are physiologically different.”

The University of Buffalo police department, the YDSA chapter and the TPUSA chapter did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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