Beloit College students protest speech by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, prompting cancellation
2 April 2019
Erik Prince, 49, former Navy SEAL-turned-founder of mercenary firm Blackwater and brother of current US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, was invited by the local chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a reactionary anti-socialist student organization, to speak at Beloit College on Wednesday, March 27. The small private liberal arts school in southern Wisconsin on the border with Illinois has an enrollment of approximately 1,800 students.
However, at the time Prince’s speech was slated to begin, 7:30 p.m., the lectern remained empty, while every seat in the lecture hall was occupied and throngs of students packed the hallways. Campus security, along with a small contingent of Beloit Police officers were present outside the hall. Students who were participating in a protest of Prince staged an orderly walkout promptly at 7:30 p.m., respectfully registering their disgust, while other students attended counter-protests and events.
After five minutes, neither Prince, nor any speaker from the YAF had taken to the podium as music and chants led by students asking “Erik Prince, where are you?” filled the hall. Following 30 minutes of intermittent clapping, singing and laughing, students began to stack chairs on the stage while others took to the front of the stage holding signs proclaiming “Erik Prince = War Criminal.” By 8:15 p.m. the event was declared canceled by the interim dean of students for “safety reasons.” Those in attendance dispersed peacefully and no arrests were made.
Following the event’s official cancellation, Prince held a private meeting with a group of YAF members and supporters in which he…