‘Fascists Go Home’: Students Protest YAF Event, Some Removed by Campus Police


Xiangyao Tang

Students gather outside of the J. Willard Marriott Library to protest the event held by the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 21, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlene Coombs, News Editor


With pride flags in hand, a group of students protested an event put on by the Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Utah in which presenters spoke against subjects including critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion, and “LGBTQ+ indoctrination.” 

The event and protest occurred on Friday evening with protesters rallying outside for about an hour before going into the J. Willard Marriott Library where the presentation was held. After the two speakers, Natalie Cline and Monica Wilbur, were introduced by YAF, some protestors stood up and led a chant — “Fascists go home.” 

After several minutes of chanting which prevented the presentation from starting, protestors who stood up and chanted were escorted out by campus police. Those who remained in their seats were allowed to stay. 

One student protestor, who asked to not be identified, said they don’t tolerate the “fascist rhetoric” being presented and that’s ultimately why they stood up to join the chant which led to them being removed by police. 

“We are students, most of the student body does not support that type of ideology,” the demonstrator said. “So that’s why we stood up, said ‘fascists go home’ and not let them talk.”

Carlene Coombs

During the presentation, Cline, who sits on the Utah State School Board, and Wilbur, an education activist, shared a presentation on “social change agendas” and “indoctrination” in public education. Critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion, and “gender ideology” were some of the subjects they touched on. 

“​​The doctrine of equity includes diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI and critical race theory or CRT practices,” Cline said to a group of about 50 people, both supporters and protestors. “If the peddlers of DEI and CRT were more honest, they would call it what it actually is — state-sponsored division, exclusion and indoctrination based on group identity.” 

In 2021, the state school board reprimanded Cline for posting “divisive rhetoric” against the LGBTQ+ community on social media, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. 

Deputy Chief Safety Officer Scott Carver said campus police’s sole function Friday evening was to ensure everyone’s rights were being protected. 

“So we allowed [the chanting] to continue for a couple of minutes because they have the right to free speech as well,” Carver said. “But once it crossed that point of disrupting the meeting, then we asked them to leave, and they did.”

Gabriela Merida, education chair for Mecha, said Mecha decided to participate in the protest because the group strives to fight for underrepresented and marginalized communities, and they are opposed to the messaging YAF has posted on campus. 

Earlier this month during the U’s Pride Week, YAF advertised a watch party on campus for the film “What is a Woman?,” an anti-transgender documentary by Matt Walsh. The flyers were later reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Racist and Bias Incident Response Team. 

“I think that the University of Utah needs to take a stand against YAF and against any anti-trans fascism,” Merida said. “They can’t say … that this is a safe place for LGBTQ youth when that kind of messaging is allowed to be on campus.” 

Juliet Reynolds, a graduate student at the U, said she and some classmates in her Gender on the Hill class chose to protest after seeing bills being pushed in the state legislature against diversity, equity and inclusion in education and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Reynolds said she wants to see more people involved and politically engaged, specifically with school boards. 

“Even if you don’t have kids, it still affects the community,” she said. “Vote and get these people out of office.”  


Chronicle News Writer Tanner Jones contributed to this story.   


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