Students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, backed by an organization called PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts), recently ended an occupation of the Massachusetts Statehouse, where they demanded free college.

The demonstration ended when officials informed them that their yelling was disrupting a ceremony for Gold Star Families who were trying to honor fallen family members.

Katie Lannan reported at South Coast Today:

College student sit-in comes to loud, tense end

Student protesters from the University of Massachusetts Amherst ended their five-day Statehouse sit-in on Wednesday, after saying legislative leaders did not respect their voices and following a brief but tense confrontation with participants in a military event.

The group of college students had been protesting outside the offices of House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka, demanding that the Legislature’s top Democrats meet with them and hold votes on bills that would make public higher education free to Massachusetts residents.

Spilka spoke with a group of the students on Monday. On Wednesday, the students said they had not yet received a meeting with DeLeo and focused their attention on his office. Students lined up outside the speaker’s office while three others sat on a couch inside DeLeo’s lobby, and both groups yelled chants of “Fund UMass” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be free.”

They wrapped up their demonstration after state troopers, park rangers assigned to the Statehouse, House court officers and a pair of lawmakers alerted them to the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty presentation taking place downstairs.

The students continued chanting until one of the family members showed up and accused them of disrespect.

Jesse Stiller reported at Campus Reform:

Various chants continued at the sit-in Wednesday until the Star-Spangled Banner began to play and someone tells the protesters that there is a Gold Star Family reception occurring.

However, shortly after the Star-Spangled banner is finished, the protesters began to chant again. After a few minutes of chanting, around 11:50 in the video, a man identified as Joseph Pollini by the Boston Herald, who was attending the Gold Star reception honoring his brother Matt, begins to confront the protesters.

“I am a Gold Star Family member and you guys are disrespecting us!” Pollini said. “We’re just asking you to remain quiet, while the celebration is going on!”

One of the activists says that they would leave their legislators “to reckon with the consequences of their mistakes.” Shortly thereafter, the students are escorted out of the building before the live stream ends.

“We had no prior knowledge of the event honoring Gold Star Families,” Zac Bears, executive director for PHENOM, told Campus Reform. “And when we were told of the disruption, we altered our plans and moved the crowd away from the event as soon as possible given the tense situation.”

This video is 18 minutes long, but if you have the sound on, I predict you won’t last more than thirty seconds. Every annoying, stereotypical aspect of a left-wing student protest is here, including the factually wrong chant that claims this is what democracy looks like.

Since this is a Facebook video, I can’t cue it to begin at a specific time, but if you want to see the family member confront the students, skip to the 11:30 mark:

According to WBUR, the head of PHENOM didn’t think the event was a failure:

Zac Bears, executive director of PHENOM, said he didn’t know that the memorial event was happening at the same time as the protest. Still, he doesn’t view the action as a failure.

“We’ve made our point over the last five days,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of students for sitting in this long, and I’m incredibly disappointed in our legislative leadership and the people in this building for ignoring them.”

Someone should tell these students they are not helping their cause by behaving in this way.

Featured image is a screen cap from Facebook video.


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