Protesters converge on UI Quad as student conservatives build 'wall'

Protesters converge on UI Quad as student conservatives build 'wall'

CHAMPAIGN — Saying they wanted to call attention to people killed by illegal immigrants, members of national conservative student organization gathered Thursday afternoon on the UI Quad to "build a wall," a play on President Donald Trump's bid to do the same at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the local version of the mini-memorial was hard to view behind a wall of protesters who gathered in front of it. They held signs that included the message "no ban, no wall, sanctuary for all."

Joel Valdez, coordinator for the UI chapter of Turning Point USA, said the goal of the wall was to start a conversation.

"We're here to highlight the people that have been killed by illegal immigrants," said Valdez, 19. "These victims are often overlooked and ignored. We're here to tell people their story."

Since their protest is a silent one, protesters were hesitant to speak with The News-Gazette.

Just next to the wall, the Latina sorority Kappa Delta Chi held a fundraising event, selling nachos, horchata and Flaming Hot Cheetos.

Jessica Diaz, a Kappa Delta Chi sister and UI sophomore, said she admired the protesters' commitment. She added that she was happy to see non-Hispanics joining the ranks of protesters.

"It's wrong and upsetting," she said of the TPUSA wall. "I grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood and it's just really sad to see this."

Senior Sammy Muchtaseb stopped in his tracks when he saw the protest on the Quad.

"TPUSA shouldn't even be allowed on campus," he said. "If they were to look at American crimes against immigrants, they'd think twice about doing this. If they want to fight crime, they should look at themselves."

Most of all, said Andrew Minik, president of the UI's TPUSA chapter, the organization is seeking to have a dialogue about what he called an "immigration crisis."

"We want to call attention to the pitfalls of this broken system," he said. "So it's upsetting that they're barricading us. But we're used to disruption and harassment."

Turning Point made local headlines last October, when its founder — Breitbart News contributor Charlie Kirk — visited the UI to kick off a "Melting Snowflakes and Smashing Socialism" campus speaking tour.

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Glock21 wrote on March 15, 2018 at 4:03 pm

I can't wait for Jim Dey's next white nationalist apologist article slamming the "authoritarian leftists" for their continued "attack" on free speech. Meanwhile I await him playing dumb about the fascists TP coordinates with and others working off of them attempting to institutionalize violence and intimidation. I know, I know... just like SuperPacs... y'all don't "coordinate." *cough*

wykhb wrote on March 15, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Maybe you will understand when conservative students show up to disrupt and intimidate a liberal protest in order to block free speech.    Hasn't actually happened yet, but surely the evil fascists are gathering enmasse to plot these actions, probably at Trump's golf club.   What else do the voices tell you?

Glock21 wrote on March 15, 2018 at 6:03 pm

They tell me not to bother with your gaslighting because people are fully aware of trumpist and Trump's own attacks on the 1st Amendment — all while aligning with groups that actively run intimidation, harassment and death threat campaigns towards these same goals. They haven't been subtle or quiet. I'm not pushing a sparsely evidenced conspiracy theory... this is happening on campuses across America and from the bully pulpit. The threats are happening to our friends and family. The violence and extremism is apparent in our communities.

You're the one trying to dismiss it as crazy talk and telling us not to believe our lying eyes. Good luck with that!

CallSaul wrote on March 15, 2018 at 6:03 pm

As happens every single time someone dares to disagree with a rightwing reactionary anywhere ever, they whine and cry that their rights are being violated.

It's as if they truly believe disagreeing with them really is unconstitutional.

They ludicrously insist that such mere disagreement and criticism are acts of silencing and intimidation...

And these are the delicate little darlings who so consistently accuse others of being snowflakes...?


BruckJr wrote on March 15, 2018 at 6:03 pm

There is a Latina sorority on campus?

Rabo Karabekian wrote on March 16, 2018 at 6:03 pm

The article neglects to show the link between Turning Point USA and right wing hate groups. Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the US ran an article on Turning Point USA in February which states, "It’s not difficult to find connections between TPUSA and explicit bigoted discrimination."

Two members of the local chapter, Joel Valdez and Blair Nelson were interviewed on Gavin McInnes' Program "Get Off My Lawn" in November. McInnes is the founder of the alt-right group, Proud Boys. One of the requirements for joining Proud Boys requires the recruit to get into a physical fight with an Antifa activist at a public rally.