University of Texas police halted what they believe was a white supremacist demonstration just after midnight Saturday, Nov. 4 on the Main Mall.
A small group of less than twenty men, who were predominately white, gathered on the campus wearing American flag masks and carrying tiki torches.
Police say they interrupted the demonstration before it began, asking the men to remove their masks and leave campus.
“The police were patrolling and saw them come on campus and start to gather and stopped it immediately. They were lighting the torches as the police were walking up,” said UT spokesperson Cindy Posey.
The protesters left without incident, with the campus police sending updates via Twitter.
The university was quick to distance themselves from the group’s message.
“The actions of white supremacists and other hate groups are completely anathema to UT’s values, and I abhor what they represent,” UT President Gregory Fenves said in a campus-wide email.
While Fenves condemned the white supremacy, he also outlined rules the protesters violated, which made their removal from the lawn about more than just their ideas. For example, UT does not allow open flames or masks on campus, both of which were used by the protesters.
Additionally, since the protest was not from a campus group, they had no right to be holding a demonstration on campus.
“The University of Texas is committed to free speech and the robust exchange of ideas among students, employees and invited visitors — but our campus is not open for non-university-affiliated groups to stage protests or gatherings,” Fenves clarified.
The incident is under investigation by the UT police department.