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Non-violent protesters met with riot police at Turning Point USA-sponsored event

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect that the UNM chapter of Turning Point declined to comment at the even on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Protesters gathered outside the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico on Oct. 20 to protest “How Men Can Fight For Life,” a speaking event held jointly between conservative political organization Turning Point USA and UNM organization Students for Life. The event featured speaker Ian Haworth, a conservative and anti-abortion personality. Protesters were met by New Mexico State Police in riot gear, despite the protest remaining nonviolent throughout the night.

Many different groups — including the Burque Autonomous Brown Berets, legal observers and street medics — were present to ensure safety among protesters. This protest followed a similar one that took place on Sept. 19 where hundreds of students gathered outside the SUB to protest another Turning Point-sponsored event featuring speaker Tomi Lahren whereupon multiple students of color were denied entry.

Earlier in the afternoon on Oct. 20, the SUB announced on Instagram that they would close at 5 p.m., with access restricted to the North Hall for student organizations and meetings and entrance for the event. This prohibited protesters from entering the building.

During the protest, students associated with Turning Point’s UNM chapter stood at the door of the SUB taking pictures of the protesters and were met with chants including “you’re on the wrong side” from those gathered at the event.

The protest on Oct. 20, similarly to the one on Sept. 19, remained nonviolent. While students did move a barricade, there were no reported injuries or damages to the University’s property. Numerous students at the protest voiced confusion about the need for such a large police presence. Once police in riot gear showed up, protesters chanted, “I don’t see no riot here, what's with all the riot gear?” The riot police pushed the crowd, which had decreased in size throughout the event, back from the SUB and toward Popejoy Hall.

Sanaa Crayton, a UNM student, said that allowing speakers like Haworth on campus shows the UNM’s administration’s true values, despite the inclusive image they project.

Miriam Barba, another student present at the protest, said she has seen the effects banning abortions can have, as she comes from a school in Texas — a state which has banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy. Barba also spoke about the lengths to which police had gone to protect students associated with Turning Point.

Protestors left the area around 8:40 p.m. when the State Police in riot gear retreated, letting students back in front of the sub. Eventually, all the police outside of the SUB retreated inside the building shortly after.

The UNM chapter of Turning Point declined to comment.

Maddie Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @maddogpukite

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