Caleb Slater, a conservative student and the president of the Ithaca College Republicans, recently attended YAF’s 39th Annual National Conservative Student Conference, where he received a baseball cap with the Young America’s Foundation logo and our slogan, “The Conservative Movement Starts Here,” printed on the back. Caleb chose to wear his YAF hat when he attended a vigil in Syracuse, New York, for the victims of last weekend’s violent clash in Charlottesville.
“I wore my Young America’s Foundation hat to the rally as a symbol of peace,” Caleb explained. “I wore the hat to show that conservatives condemn the actions of the alt-right just as much as anyone else in our culture.” It was this hat that earned Caleb the attention of antifa supporters at the same rally, and led to a violent attack caught on camera.
This incident highlights the true intolerance of the Left today: when a conservative goes out of their way to find common ground with their ideological rivals, leftists lash out merely due to a conservative logo and slogan on a ball cap.
Caleb (pictured above) recounts the events of the day and his motivation for attending an otherwise leftist-dominated rally in the following statement:
On Sunday August 13th I decided to attend the “Rally/Vigil for Charlottesville, Virginia” hosted by the Syracuse Black Lives Matter group. In preparation for this event, I knew that I would encounter socialists and progressives, people I would normally have fundamental disagreements with, but was hoping that we could at least come together and agree that the actions in Charlottesville on Saturday were vile. The values of the alt-right are inconsistent with the values of the Western World and toxic to the culture. I was hoping that I could come to terms with people of all backgrounds and mourn the loss of life on US soil.
I wore my Young America’s Foundation hat to the rally as a symbol of peace. I wore the hat to show that conservatives condemn the actions of the alt-right just as much as anyone else in our culture. Throughout the event I was taking photographs, for my show on the Ithaca Public Access station, “Liberty Now.” Our next episode was booked to discuss the evils of extremist groups (Radical Islam, Antifa and the alt-right.)
About an hour into the rally a participant noticed my hat and proceeded to stick up his middle finger at me and then direct the other antifa supporters of my very presence. One of the girls from antifa, dressed in all black, began to shout me down and ask, “Are you with right wing media? Why do you have the fu**ing hat on? You’re with Young America’s Foundation?” I simply responded by informing them that I meant no harm and was peacefully assembling. She then proceeded to yell loudly, “We don’t want you here.” At this point I turned on my camera, because I did not know what they planned on doing to me. She got more aggressive and antifa supporters surrounded me, like a pack of wolves. One member tried to grab my camera, to which I latched hard to, so that they would not damage my personal property.
Another member of antifa took the hat off my head, screamed more expletives and tossed my YAF hat away. It was at this moment the camera stopped rolling, as someone pressed the record button on my camera and then proceeded to yank on the strap of my camera, choking me. Three or four of them then proceeded to continue to scream, “We don’t want you here!” while grabbing me by my button up shirt and dragging me off Clinton Square and into the street. This was NOT a blocked off road and cars were present. I could have gotten run over and they did not care.
More people began to chime in and yell, “No Trump, No KKK, Nazi go away” over and over again. I replied by shouting that I am in fact not a neonazi, but a first generation born half Dominican, half African American whose grandfather was a civil rights activist. I came to this event in peace, I came to this event to stand beside my fellow Americans to disavow bigotry and instead I became the victim of bigotry, an intellectual bigotry. I was not attacked for my words, nor my actions. I was attacked for being a conservative, Antifa targeted me, shortly after seeing a Young America’s Foundation hat. My crime was wearing a hat on public property and I was assaulted for it.
Nobody came to help me, none of the local media groups caught this on camera. I did not see any authorities in the area to prevent this kind of unlawful behavior. The entire event was held on public property and they had no right to physically remove me from the event.
The only positive act from that day was the reaction of the organizers. Syracuse Black Lives Matter did condemn the actions of antifa and met with me after the event to apologize for the unlawful behavior of this extremist group. At the same time though, the organizers did make an excuse for the attackers and claimed that I should not be wearing apparel from an organization that many “interpret to be radical.”
The domestic terrorism from antifa towards conservatives in this country must come to an end. Many conservative students before me have faced the dangers of antifa’s fascist tactics at universities such as: UB, University of Wisconsin Madison and Berkeley. Antifa has grown to the length where a conservative student can’t even mourn the loss of US life without the fear of being terrorised.