Chanting “humanity first,” dozens of people protested outside the UCLA hall on Sunday where Donald Trump Jr. was speaking as part of a promotional tour for his new book.
Trump, who is promoting his book “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” spoke at Moore Hall on the Westwood campus as part of an event hosted by the conservative student group Turning Point USA. Later in the day, Trump was scheduled to give a lecture and sign copies of his book at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
The Los Angeles chapter of Refuse Fascism planned the UCLA demonstration. The leftist activist group, which has organized large-scale demonstrations against the Trump administration in major U.S. cities, wrote in a Facebook post that “Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ is a 21st century fascist program of Manifest Destiny –'America First’ – wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence’s Bible taken literally. A specifically American culmination of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia.”
Several hundred people waited in line to attend Trump’s speech at Moore Hall as a few dozen protesters gathered across the street. Event officials later said the auditorium was full and at least 100 people were turned away.
Chanting “UCLA protects fascists” and “humanity first,” the protesters banged drums and blew whistles to voice their opposition to Trump’s speech and his father’s 2020 presidential campaign.
“Silence to this just normalizes it,” said Chantelle Hershberger, an organizer with the group Refuse Fascism. “Silence to any Trump, any part of this administration is complicity. People need to show up and oppose this strongly. The water is boiling, and we are just sitting in the pot.”
Hershberger said she read Trump Jr.’s new book and found its message concerning.
“The book read to me like inciting violence toward liberal people and toward anyone who holds any sort of socialist values,” she said.
UCLA police officers were on hand for crowd control. Lt. Kevin Kilgore said there were no arrests or physical confrontations during the protest.
Trump supporter Andy Stein, 56, drove from Carlsbad on Sunday morning to attend the event. Among the first to arrive in line around 7:30 a.m., Stein said he supported Trump Jr. as a “chip off the old block” and admired his “feistiness.” He had not read the new book.
“I understand the concept — the left seems to be triggered by every little thing,” Stein said.
He voted twice for President Obama but said Donald Trump’s performance against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 debates “swept him off his feet.” Since supporting Trump, he said he had lost several friends who could not accept his support of the president.
“I see the right side as being open-minded and listening, and I don’t see that on the left,” Stein said.
Louie Rios, a 19-year-old high school senior from San Pedro, woke up at 5 a.m. Sunday and was first in line to attend Trump Jr.’s speech.
Rios was decked out in Trump gear, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, a Trump-Pence 2020 sweatshirt and red Converse low-top sneakers. He said he had purchased Trump Jr.'s book but hadn’t read it yet.
As for the protesters, he said he was just hoping for a “peaceful protest.”
“They have the right to protest as long as they don’t attack us,” Rios said. “Everyone should practice their 1st Amendment right.”
UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said the Trump Jr. talk was not a university-sponsored event.
“The speakers were invited to campus by one of UCLA’s more than 1,200 student organizations, all of whom have access to university resources,” he said in a statement. “Freedom of speech and expression are core values at UCLA, but allowing someone to speak on campus is not an endorsement of their views. UCLA is committed to equity, inclusion and mutual respect as well as protecting the physical safety of everyone on campus. This includes their right to speak, be heard, hear others and peacefully dissent.”
Trump‘s speaking engagements came a few days after a contentious appearance on ABC’s “The View” with his girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, facing tough questions about his and his father’s behavior, including then-candidate Trump’s attacks on Mexicans and on the Khans, a Gold Star family whose son was killed in Iraq, during the 2016 campaign.
Trump Jr. defended his decision to tweet the name of someone identified on some online sites as the whistleblower (who is still anonymous) in the Ukraine scandal, criticized the House impeachment inquiry as a “one-sided sham” and decried “PC culture,” a central topic of his book.
Paulina DiMarco, 27, of San Fernando attended Sunday’s event and got a signed copy of Trump‘s book. By the time she emerged from Moore Hall, the protesters had mostly dispersed and marched toward the UCLA student union.
“They can protest all they want,” she said. “The protesters don’t really like to talk. They like to bang their drums and yell, that’s what they do. But conversations are nice.”