TURLOCK, Calif. – Students at Stanislaus State University repeatedly interrupted President Ellen Junn during a recent welcome back address to demand the school expel a student who helped organize the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Minutes into Junn’s address on Monday, students unfurled social justice banners and repeatedly chanted: “Stan State, stand against hate!” KCRA reports.
Junn’s thanked the rowdy social justice warriors for “proclaiming their passion against hate speech and hate activism,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
“We are all part of that fight, as a campus, as a university. And I want to applaud and commend the students for being here, showing up,” she said.
Of course, it wasn’t enough to quell the demands to expel Nathan Damigo, a white nationalist who helped organize the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The city-approved rally resulted in numerous clashes between white nationalists and anti-fascist protestors, both of which came armed for conflict. Dozens of folks were injured in the violence, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old counter-protestor Heather Heyer.
Heyer was killed when an alleged racist plowed a car into a crowd of people, an incident that also injured more than a dozen anti-fascists.
According to the Modesto Bee:
Damigo was arrested for refusing a police order to leave a park where white nationalists hoped to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and he posted a video on his Twitter feed reveling in “national attention” to the incident.
Students at the Monday address carried banners that read “Don’t let what happened in Charlottesville happen here!!!” and “When you give Nazis a platform, they bring torches. Expel Damigo.”
And while Junn applauded the students’ “passion,” the university has refused to take action against Damigo, a 31-year-old former U.S. Marine.
Junn confirmed last week that Damigo remains enrolled at Stanislaus State, a satellite schools affiliated with the University of California system.
Junn told the protesting students that privacy laws prohibit her from discussing Damigo status, but promised to “take swift action” if and when “a line is crossed.”
The university president is consulting with the school’s legal team, she said, “to provide me context to make a rational decision based on circumstances and evidence,” according to the Bee.
The schools social justice warriors want more.
“We are trying to put her in a position where she needs to take a stance,” graduate student Laura Machado said. “Various students on campus have repeatedly addressed her and tried to raise the issue of having white supremacists on campus where they can openly recruit (which) is a danger to our student body.”
Junn explained why she was so impressed with students who interrupted her Monday address in an interview with the Bee afterwards.
“They were shouting and passionate and wanted to express their views, which is fine,” she said. “That’s why universities are here, to promote lessons of inclusion and strengthen civil discourse. I appreciate everyone’s patience in giving them the opportunity.”
Damigo has repeatedly refused requests for comment from the Bee, but he did appear at a press conference in Alexandria, Virginia on Monday. Damigo told reporters that police in Charlottesville funneled “Unite the Right” supporters directly into the path of counter protestors who were armed with bats, metal sticks and other weapons, virtually guaranteeing a conflict.
When the chaos erupted, police declared the event an unlawful assembly in an attempt to shut it down, he said.
“At the end of the day, law enforcement did not do their jobs,” Damigo told reporters. “Maybe they wanted a situation to occur in which they could shut down the event.”
He also made it clear that James Fields, the 20-year-old charged with second degree murder in Heyer’s death, was not affiliated with his group, Identify Evropa.
Damigo, of Oakdale, told reporters he’s now planning another rally in the Bay Area for Aug. 27, according to the Bee.