Is free speech on college campuses eroding?

    Hayden Williams.jpg

    WASHINGTON (SBG) - The attack of a young man at the University of California Berkeley has now gone viral.

    “They were cussing at us and suggesting that we were promoting violence because we had a sign that read 'hate crime hoaxes hurt real victims' referencing the Jussie Smollett incident in the news,” said the victim, Hayden Williams, in an interview last week.

    He was park of a group recruiting conservative college students to the club Turning Point USA.

    “You can see in the video the guy flips over my table and starts pushing me and punching me," Williams said.

    Over the weekend President Trump recognized Williams on stage during a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and made this threat to colleges and universities:

    “If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” Trump said.

    President Donald Trump speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2019, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    The suspect in the incident, who has now been arrested, was not a Berkeley student. But the university in the past has canceled speeches by conservatives Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannapoulos over concerns about safety.

    Brent Cohen is the Executive Director of the progressive group Generation Progress, the youth-engagement arm of the Center for American Progress.

    In an interview Monday he said “where there might be threats of violence or speech that might insight violence, universities have a responsibility to create a safe environment.”

    Cohen said what he sees are students fighting against hate speech on their campuses.

    “Coming to a college campus-and worst-case scenario- to pedal hate speech disguised as policies. If that’s free speech you can’t do that with impunity.”

    For its part, U.C. Berkeley said it has hosted plenty of conservative speakers in the past without incident.

    Looking ahead it remains unclear just how much money President Trump could withhold in an executive action since congressional action would likely be needed first.

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