BINGHAMTON, NY – Student protesters at Binghamton University prevented a prominent conservative economist from delivering a speech on campus last night.
Art Laffer, the Father of the Laffer Curve and Supply Side Economics, had been invited to speak by the school’s College Republicans.
According to university officials, Laffer’s lecture was immediately disrupted and prevented from speaking.
Witnesses say University Police were forced to whisk him away and cancel the event.
One protester with a bullhorn and another who interfered with police were arrested.
“Masks and armbands, they came in, shouting us down, they had a megaphone and they had this whole pre-written speech, telling us to leave, telling us we don’t belong on this campus. It’s disgusting, I’m horrified,” says secretary of the BU Republicans, Jon Lizak.
Last night’s incident comes on the heels of another confrontation between the College Republicans and protesters that took place last Thursday.
Protesters reportedly surrounded a table set up to promote the Laffer event, shouting slogans and eventually tearing down the table and confiscating the Republican materials.
The leader of the College Democrats says Laffer should have been allowed to speak.
President of College Democrats at Binghamton University Tim Markbreiter says, “We agree with everyone’s rights to protest, nonviolently, and to engage in civil discourse. We do not, however, endorse the use of violent protests, nor do we think the economist yesterday should have been interrupted and shut down.”
Markbreiter says that his group had nothing to do with the violent protest.
University officials contend that they took reasonable steps to ensure Laffer’s right to address the audience, following the confrontation of last week.
They moved Laffer’s speech to a larger venue, provided an adjacent lecture hall for a counter presentation, increased the police presence and implored protestors not to disrupt the event.
The school says it is incredibly disappointed by the outcome and reserves the right to pursue criminal charges or disciplinary action against any organizations or individuals involved in the disturbance.
State Senator Fred Akshar says a leftist mob mentality and brute force intimidation are being given preference over free speech and the right to peacefully assemble.
He’s critical of the university’s handling of events.
“I don’t believe that they handled the first incident on Thursday appropriately. I think that they made excuses,” says Akshar.
Akshar did commend the efforts of the University Police.
The Senator says he’s moving a meeting he had scheduled with the Southern Tier Young Professionals this evening off campus as a matter of principle.
He’s invited the leaders of the College Democrats, College Progressives and College Republicans to a meeting at his office tomorrow to discuss ways to support free speech on campus.