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Students Literally Stack Chairs To Stop Speaker

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A Wisconsin college canceled a speech by security company Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince after students banged drums and stacked chairs on the stage to prevent the speech Wednesday.

Beloit College interim dean of students Cecil Youngblood said the college canceled Prince’s speech, which was already delayed by at least 40 minutes, according to Inside Higher Ed on Friday.

Protesters responded with cheers, according to video shared on Twitter by Gazettextra staff photographer Angela Major.

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“I believe that if a critical mass of students object to a speaker’s presence or a speaker’s platform, they should have a say in whether or not that speaker is welcome in our home,” student Rose Johnson said, Gazettextra reported.

The college condemned the protesters and will investigate the situation, it said in a statement Wednesday.

“Due to disruptive protests and safety concerns, the event hosted by the Young Americans for Freedom featuring speaker Erik Prince had to be cancelled to ensure the safety of all participants,” the college told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email. “As an institution of higher learning, open dialogue on all topics is one of our core principles. Wednesday’s events fell unacceptably short of this core principle, and we condemn the behavior of those who disrupted the event.”

Blackwater, now Academi, has received backlash for its role in the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, Inside Higher Ed reported. Four Blackwater contractors were convicted in 2014 for a 2007 incident in which 14 Iraqis were killed.

Prince was invited by Beloit’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

He is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“It’s sad the president and the administration of this college lacked the moral courage to enforce free speech and to defend free speech,” Prince said, the Beloit Daily News reported. “Fortunately, President (Donald) Trump will defend free speech and I think the college will be hearing from the court soon on this because enough is enough.”

Trump signed an executive order to require colleges to protect free speech if the institutions want federal funding. The president first announced the idea at the Conservative Political Action Committee in early March and signed it March 21.

“People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others,” Trump said.

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YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said the group is keeping a close eye on the college to see how it handles the situation, Inside Higher Ed reported.

YAF did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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