A speech by former Reagan administration official Arthur Laffer was shut down by protesters at Binghamton University in New York on Monday, resulting in two arrests.
The university issued a statement condemning the individuals who disrupted and ultimately shut down a lecture by Mr. Laffer, who served as an economic adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan and was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump.
“The University is incredibly disappointed with the events that happened tonight, particularly given that demonstrators were provided an adjacent lecture hall to engage in a counter discussion,” the statement read. “The protestors chose instead to infringe on the expressive activity of others and to prevent those who wished to hear the speaker from doing so.
“The investigation of student organizations and individual students who encouraged or participated in any activity that violated applicable law and University policies continues,” the statement continued. “The University reserves the right to pursue appropriate charges or disciplinary action against those organizations and individuals as relevant information is confirmed.”
Mr. Laffer’s lecture, sponsored by the school’s Young America’s Foundation chapter, was meant to teach students about free enterprise and limited government, the group said, but was cut short after “hundreds of leftists” surrounded the event venue in masks, “disrupted the lecture with a loudspeaker, and shouted down an educator who has worked his entire life to ensure all Americans achieve greater prosperity.”
The incident came just days after a confrontation at an outdoor tabling display, hosted by the College Republicans, drew hundreds of protesters and a police response, The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reported.
Video of the confrontation showing students screaming at conservatives on campus and destroying their display has since gone viral.
Because of that incident, the university said it had beefed up security for the Laffer event and moved it to a bigger venue, as well as provided a separate space for counter-protests.
“Despite those measures, the lecture was immediately disrupted and the speaker was entirely prevented from addressing the audience led by an individual using a bull horn,” the school said. “That individual was arrested, as was another individual who attempted to interfere with police.”
The controversies have prompted state Sen. Fred Akshar, a Republican, to drop out of his scheduled speaking event Tuesday night.
“It’s become clear to me that Binghamton University’s campus has no longer become suitable for civic engagement,” Mr. Akshar said in a statement, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. “Like many campuses across the country, it appears that leftist mob mentality and brute force intimidation have been given preference over free speech and the right to peacefully assemble.”
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