A protester hoisted a sign reading “Three I’s for Trump: impeach, indict, imprison,” above the crowd.
Others carried “Murphy + Fuchs resign,” and “Don’t give my student fees to Nazis.”
They weren’t just protesting the president’s son in town; they were protesting the use of student funds to pay for it.
Protesters gathered Thursday night in opposition to ACCENT Speakers Bureau’s use of student activity fees to pay Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior adviser on his father’s 2020 presidential re-election campaign and Trump Jr.’s girlfriend. The organization paid the duo $50,000 to speak at the University Auditorium.
The #CHOMPTRUMP protest was organized by a group of students and activists Oct. 1, the same day ACCENT announced the speakers.
The protest began with about 100 people but quickly grew to more than 300 just before the beginning of the speech at 7 p.m. At its peak, about 400 protesters were outside.
The crowd spoke against Donald Trump and his son, but also directed criticism at UF Student Body President Michael Murphy while chanting, “Michael Murphy, do what’s right! Quit enabling the alt-right!”
One concern some students have is Murphy’s father’s connection to the Trump administration as a high-paying campaign contributor.
Soon after the ACCENT announcement, #CHOMPTRUMP called for an apology and resignation from key members of UF Student Government, including Murphy and ACCENT Chair Henry Fair.
However, some protesters showed up to speak against Donald Trump directly. Ruth Chase, who traveled from Tallahassee for the protest, dressed in a prison jumpsuit and giant papier-mâché President Trump head with a gaping mouth.
“Corruption is always there,” Chase, 71, said. “It’s always just waiting for people to get comfortable.”
There wasn’t a shortage of Trump supporters, either. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, who is scheduled to speak at UF in November, also attended the protest saying he was there because he loves free speech. Kirk has two upcoming “Culture War” tour dates featuring Trump Jr. this month.
Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) from Turning Point USA is outside the event debating with the protestors. “Don’t you like President Trump? He’s doing such a good job!” Kirk said. “Why are you guys so angry?” A protestor yelled back, “You’re white! Of course you can say that!” pic.twitter.com/YRC5QbZBEc— Hope Dean (@hope_m_dean) October 10, 2019
Kirk asked protesters, “Don’t you like President Trump? He’s doing such a good job! Why are you guys so angry?”
A protester yelled back, “You’re white! Of course you can say that!”
Michael Wyatt, a Santa Fe construction management freshman, described himself as “very conservative” and came to the protest wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and Trump flag as a cape.
“They totally have the right to protest, and I don’t mind them being here,” Wyatt said. “But, at the same time, I definitely disagree.”
A man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and Donald Trump shirt was carrying a sign that read “ISLAM WAS RIGHT ABOUT WOMEN.” Another man tried taking his sign, causing violence between the two. The police intervened. pic.twitter.com/kIHQRjeME5— April Rubin (@AprilMRubin) October 10, 2019
The #CHOMPTRUMP protest didn’t go without conflict. A man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and Donald Trump shirt carried a sign that read, “ISLAM WAS RIGHT ABOUT WOMEN.”
Another man tried taking the man’s hat, and a fight broke out. Police intervened and both men were taken away, but the man who was wearing the hat returned.
Savannah Gribbins, a 24-year-old second-year UF law student, protested against the $50,000 paid to the speaking duo as well as the speakers themselves.
She said that she wouldn’t be able to attend law school without her scholarship and that the $50,000 could have gone toward scholarship funds. She was initially upset because of the cost but became more concerned when she learned about Murphy’s connection to Trump Jr.
“If you’re going to bring in speakers that are so completely biased on one side, at least get some input from the Student Body before you spend our funds on it,” she said.
April Rubin, Hope Dean, Alyssa Feliciano and Alex DeLuca contributed to this report.