Left-wing student protesters rallied Monday night at Florida State University outside Daily Wire icon Ben Shapiro's conservative lecture on how "wokeness" is ruining America's institutions, from elitist Hollywood to education to government.
FSU GOP and Young America's Foundation, a national conservative student organization, hosted the Fred and Lynda Allen Lecture Series featuring Shapiro at the sold-out venue on campus in Tallahassee, Florida.
The event's organizers, FSU College Republicans and FSU's Institute of Politics, welcomed the conservative firebrand at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center's Exhibition Hall in front of a massive 1,500-person audience, which way outnumbered the number of protestors outside the event.
Ahead of the scheduled speech, college progressives and leftist student activists mobilized to protest Shapiro's appearance at the university.
Shapiro's promotional poster was vandalized with graffiti. Vandals drew devil horns on Shapiro, labeling the right-wing figure a "racist" and "misogynist."
FSU's branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a socialist college group, released a statement on social media calling Shapiro "violently racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic," without concrete evidence to support the claims.
SDS alleged that Shapiro as well as The Daily Wire are "far-right" despite the conservative commentator being the top target of antisemitism on Twitter among journalists in 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The student organization also took issue with Shapiro's stance against the left's Marxist critical race theory teachings in K-12 schools. SDS argued that Shapiro's "has affirmed white supremacy" by fighting against its divisive implementation.
SDS demanded FSU president Richard McCullough cancel Shapiro's speech to prove the university's commitment to "equity, diversity, and inclusion."
"No Fascists on our campus!" the Facebook statement concluded.
SDS also aided another campus progressive group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP at FSU), plan an in-person protest on the night of Shapiro's speech.
SJP at FSU, which seeks "collective liberation in Palestine," posted a social media graphic with the heading, "We Don't Tolerate Fascists."
"Everyone is welcome—except fascists," the Instagram post read.
"Ben Shapiro is a zionist: he's also xenophobic, racist, homophobic, and transphobic," SJP at FSU regurgitated allegations in the post's caption. "We are outraged that FSU has offered him a platform, and invite everyone who disagrees with his hateful ideology to stand against him on November 15."
Student protesters gathered at the scene holding makeshift "Free Palestine" signs and others that read, "End the Occupation" and "Go Home Fascist!"
Other demonstrators arrived waving Palestinian flags and a bullhorn. "Palestine will be free!" the protestors chanted in unison.
In the speech, Shapiro outlined in depth how wokeness is destroying America and how the nation can be brought back from the brink of radicalism.
"We were happy so many people who disagreed turned out for the Q and A. The best part of Young America's Foundation events are when ideas are challenged and robust debate is had. Hopefully some of the protestors made their way inside rather than screaming into the void," said YAF spokeswoman Kara Zupkus.
Shapiro is editor emeritus of DailyWire.com; host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," the top conservative podcast in the nation and syndicated radio show heard on more than 150 stations nationwide, including eight of the top ten markets; and a leading conservative speaker on college campuses as a staunch defender of free speech and open debate. Shapiro is the author of numerous best-selling books, including the New York Times best-seller The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Weaponized America's Institutions Against Dissent released this year.
While debating the future of education, Shapiro has faced off with progressive The Young Turks personality Ana Kasparian at the 37th Annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner back in early October—both teaming up to deliver a fiery keynote address at the state's Chamber of Commerce meeting.