Turning Point USA is a free-market group that does outreach to high school and college students. On Monday and Tuesday last week, it set up a booth in a common area at UNLV. It was standard political fare. There was a table with an American flag and a poster reading “socialism sucks.” Behind the display was a wooden panel that looked like a brick wall with the message “build the wall.”
Some students were interested. Some weren’t. And some got violent.
“A guy with heels comes up and he rips my poster board off of my table and rips everything else off my table,” Brittni Coffeen, a TPUSA field representative, said. “He pulls the American flag off and throws it on the ground. He rushes the wall, knocks one of my students over and breaks my wall.”
A video of the incident shows a male knocking over the wall and the group’s table in disarray with literature spilled on the ground.
“This one girl started everything, she pushed our wall over from behind,” Coffeen said of another incident. “She did it again. I started recording her and she threw everything off of our table.”
Video shows another irate leftist yelling at the Turning Point USA group before throwing a granola bar at them. Another video shows a female flipping the group off and yelling, “F—- you, you racist b——.”
At one point, “we had a crowd of over 200 people and just people yelling,” Coffeen said. “Telling us to ‘F’ off, saying we were racist, Nazis, fascists. We just had to keep an eye out all day for people who were potentially violent.”
The protesters behaving badly appeared to be students. Yet UNLV isn’t pursuing any discipline.
“UNLV is committed to assuring the First Amendment rights for every member of our university community and visitors to our campuses,” Cindy Brown, UNLV’s senior director of public affairs, wrote in an email. “Any individual who believes their rights have been violated has avenues to express their concerns.”
That’s nice sounding rhetoric. But without action, it’s meaningless. Brown blamed the lack of a response on TPUSA representatives not wanting “UNLV police to pursue issuing citations” against the aggressors.
A TPUSA spokesman said members of the group are still considering filing a police report. They should do that, and they made a mistake not pursuing the issue immediately.
In a perfect world, UNLV would be proactive in responding to politically motivated violence on its campus. But if UNLV claims it’s waiting for TPUSA representatives file a formal complaint, they need to do so.
That will force UNLV to take action — or expose that its commitment to the First Amendment is just empty rhetoric.
Political violence has arrived at UNLV. Its administration needs to forcefully condemn it and punish those responsible.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 10 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.