Students arrested & maced at protest against white nationalist David Duke at US Senate debate

Former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke © Bryn Stole
Six Dillard University students were arrested while others were maced during protests against David Duke’s appearance at the historically black college. The former KKK grand wizard was one of six candidates in a debate for the US Senate in Louisiana.

Students clashed with police Wednesday night at Dillard University, just outside the auditorium hosting the US Senate debate. Barred from entering, the students conglomerated at the doors to protest the presence of former KKK leader David Duke, who is running as a Republican.

Before the debate began, 60 to 70 protesters gathered on the campus to march around the perimeter of the auditorium, chanting, “No Duke. No KKK, no fascist USA,” the Times-Picayune reported.

Dillard University police confirmed using pepper spray on protesters who had tried to enter the building.

One student who was pepper-sprayed, Breial Kennedy, was shocked by the response by the campus police – particularly because she had been given permission to observe the debate as a guest of candidate Caroline Fayard’s campaign.

"It's unclear to me why she was denied entrance, or who made that decision," Fayard spokesman Beau Tidwell told the Times-Picayune.

Campus security’s refusal to allow Kennedy’s entrance was seen by some as the catalyst for the crowd’s increased frustrations, as they began to try to push their way in, chanting, “Let us in, let us in!

Students defended their demands to enter.

"I said, 'I pay tuition here, this is my school,'” Erick Dillard told the Times-Picayune.

"We do not approve of this at all," Kennedy said. "He represented an imminent threat."

However, the school defended campus security’s actions – including the pepper spray.

"For us it was a last resort. We tried to speak with them for several minutes and asked them just to allow us to close the door," Dillard spokesman David Grubb told the Times-Picayune.