Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists at the University of Michigan (UM) crashed a political debate at the school Tuesday night, saying it was unacceptable to hold a debate on the merits of Black Lives Matter because dissenting against the movement’s goals is entirely unacceptable.
The Michigan Political Union (MPU), a non-partisan debating society at UM, planned to hold a debate Tuesday evening on the resolution “Black Lives Matter is harmful to racial relations in the United States.” Three (white) debaters were slated to respond to the resolution from a liberal, conservative, and libertarian point of view.
The planned debate didn’t go according to plan. Just a few minutes into the debate, dozens of BLM activists filled the room and shouted that the resolution itself was too offensive to be considered.
A video uploaded to YouTube by MLive captures a portion of the protest.
“Your life is not up for debate; neither is mine!” a protest leader shouted, before being echoed by her comrades throughout the room. “Black lives are not up for debate! If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor! Black Lives Matter does not hurt race relations. Racists hurt race relations!”
Numerous protesters carried signs with slogans such as “White silence is white oppression” and “You are so privileged.” After cycling through their prepared chant at least twice, demonstrators staged a “die-in” in which they lay on the ground as a form of protest.
According to Michigan Daily reporter Neil Schwartz, there were hundreds of additional demonstrators assembled outside the meeting while the die-in was occurring.
Despite the influx of protesters, the debate’s organizers initially attempted to continue with the scheduled debate. But they had little success, as they were repeatedly interrupted by protesters who said that, as white people, they had no right to debate the Black Lives Matter movement. At one point an attendee approached the podium and argued that the regular debate should be suspended so the floor could be opened up exclusively to black people.
The heated debate environment was influenced by the distribution on Monday of numerous alt-right fliers on campus that promoted white nationalism and argued that blacks are inherently more violent and less intelligent.
Christiana Allen, a graduate student at UM, told MLive she was appalled the university expressed support for free speech in the wake of the fliers’ appearance.
“The fact that they chose to say in their statement that it was freedom of speech and for that reason they wouldn’t take down the fliers on the wall where this was, it invalidates our experience on this campus,” she said.
At the meeting’s conclusion, protesters departed while shouting in unison “We have nothing to lose but our chains!”