This is mob rule.
Protesters storm campus after Cantor cancels visit
Cantor’s office was told Thursday that Penn security was welcoming protesters
Amid Occupy Philadelphia protesters and discrepancies in the attendance policy, United States House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) canceled his Wharton Leadership Lecture slated for Friday, Oct. 21 at 4:30 p.m. Cantor had planned to speak at Huntsman Hall about income inequality.
His absence didn’t deter activists, however, who assembled inside and outside Huntsman.
“It appears [Cantor] doesn’t want to talk to the 99 percent,” said Jamie Mondics of advocacy group Keystone Progress, after learning of the canceled speech.
DPS spokesman Stef Karp estimated that about 500 demonstrators were at the protest.
Protesters entered Huntsman by force through Au Bon Pain and occupied the lobby, shouting chants such as “Eric Cantor, come out, come out wherever you are” and “We are the 99 percent.”
DPS officers “formed a human chain to make sure they couldn’t come into Wharton, into Hunstman,” past the lobby, Rush said.
“As long as they don’t disrupt anyone, they’re allowed here,” said a DPS official on the scene, adding that no arrests were made.
“We gave them the opportunity to speak their piece,” Rush said.
As the protesters sang chants in call-and-response, most college students looked on in disbelief around the outskirts of the group.
The speech was scheduled several months ago and was to be open to members of the press and the Penn community.
Friday morning, Cantor’s office learned of the anticipated protesters through press reports.
About 500 to 1,000 protesters affiliated with Occupy Philadelphia planned to march from City Hall to Locust Walk in front of Huntsman to protest Cantor’s presence, according to Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill.
“I think it’s a shame that a speech at a university should not occur because of some fear that there will be skeptics and critics in the audience,” said English professor Al Filreis, who signed a statement expressing solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Filreis added, “Clearly, the reason he canceled was that he wanted to speak to a friendly audience, and not one that would ask him difficult questions.
Cantor was giving a speech, not holding a townhall or a press conference. The protesters were not going there to listen to him. They weren’t going there to peacefully protest outside Huntsman Hall.
They went there to disrupt his speech. Had it not been canceled they would likely have succeeded. This has become a common tactic on college campuses.
I’ve never liked this bullshit. The protesters were not exercising their free speech rights. They were trying to stop someone else from exercising theirs.
What about the rights of the people that wanted to hear the speech?
Democracy isn’t just about asserting YOUR rights. It’s about respecting the rights of others too.
We all have a right to speak, but none of us has a right to force others to listen, nor do we have a right to stop them from speaking.
We have a right to use public space, but we don’t have a right to commandeer it for our exclusive use. We have to share it, and abide by reasonable rules governing its use.
That’s democracy in action.