Hundreds of students protested at the historically black Dillard University in New Orleans as the Ku Klux Klan’s former leader David Duke took the stage for the final debate in the race for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana late Wednesday.
Students were pepper sprayed and tasered as they attempted to enter the auditorium where the debate was held. Broadcaster RayCom decided at the last minute that the debate would not be open to the public and the candidates debated in an empty auditorium.
“No Duke. No K-K-K, no fascist USA,” the students chanted and later when they were denied entry there were cries of “Let us in! Let us in!”
“We’re standing outside while (Duke) is inside under the protection of your (university) president,” Malcolm Suber, an organizer of a group calling for the removal of Civil War statues in New Orleans, reportedly said. “Your administration let the white devil on your campus.”
Protesters attempted to push past the glass doors as the debate began when police used pepper spray to keep them back. Reports said protesters also pepper sprayed some officers.
While the university and city authorities denied that any arrests were made, some reports said at least two people were arrested in the protests. But the university announced on Twitter that two people were detained as they tried to breach a door.
Following backlash against Duke’s presence in Dillard, the university released a statement Wednesday saying: “Dillard stands by its contractual obligation to host the debate.”
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities such as Dillard are committed to building bridges between people of all races, religions, and ideologies in our nation. The University has a responsibility to represent the values of inclusion and promote the nation’s movement towards a more open society that creates opportunity for all Americans, and the University stands in direct opposition to those who would promote exclusion and the denial of the American Dream to any of our citizens,” the statement read.
Duke acknowledged the protesters during the debate calling them “Black Lives Matter radicals.”
“The Black Lives Matter movement calls for the murder of police officers and calls for the death of police,” the former Grand Wizard of the white supremacist group reportedly said. Duke said he would “defend the police” and fight for white people who “also deserve human rights.”