Hundreds of Students Counter-Protest Street Preachers at UNT
UNT's free speech was occupied by the National Street Preachers Conference (and hundreds of UNT students counter-protesting them) on Thursday and Friday, March 29th and 30th. The street preachers had the visit to UNT marked on their calendar as "outreach." The signs the NSPC carried ranged from homophobic to racist to islamaphobic to sexist slurs, with one containing a full list of causes for "damnantion" and "hellfire."
The students who filled the area on both days joined together with support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, and more.
On Friday, UNT's campus closed at noon to mark the end of "staff appreciation" week, but as the street preachers begin at 11:30 a.m., many students crowded the area for hours after the campus closed, ensuring to out wait the street preachers.
Kristi Lillie of the NSPC said they were there to "show the sins of the students." In doing so they were hoping to "shock the students into repenting and following the right God."
Zachary Humpry said that he was there to help the "sinners" and he was only met with "hate."
After the first day, UNT's Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the office of the Dean of Students sent a mass email telling students to go to the Union as they created a "Safe Brave Space" where people who were being affected by the words of the street preachers could seek comfort and have an open mic to share their thoughts.
A few students in the area were lending help to calm and support the fellow students. Freshman Jaye Douglas, who was dancing and singing, wanted to provide positivity to those in distress from the street preachers' demonstration.
"They think they can come into our house and mess with what makes us a unique. And you see us here coming together and nothing is going to break us up. They will not, as long as I have green blood in my veins. I will not rest until the students have a save haven," Douglas said.
Several other students also tried to bring positive energy. One student can be seen in a video playing their trombone in the face of protestors, along with other students who brought out their various instruments to play songs for the crowd, sing UNT's fight song, and sing "Lean on Me."
One student, Jonathan Clement, came dressed as Jesus Christ and was seen dancing and supporting the student protester. He can be seen in several videos and pictures on social media.
"A lot of people were using my name, so I decided to make an appearance, and tried to spread a message of unity, and they responded with calling me the false Christ," Clement said.
Behind the frontline of street preachers, many students took it upon themselves to speak up about their causes to each other, attempting open mic and open conversations.
Isaiah King, a student sporting a "I Know My Rights" T-shirt, stood on the frontline passionately confronting the street preachers.
"I pride myself on a being a leader of equality and spreading love and when something stands against those ideals, I have to stand up against it," King said.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @TheDentonite for more pictures and videos of the counter-protest.
Nyx Armstrong contributed field reporting to this article
Header image layout designed by Christopher Rodgers