A group of protesters at New Orleans’s historically black Dillard University clashed with police as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke debated five other candidates for U.S. Senate inside the venue on Wednesday.
Some of the protesters tried to force their way into the building despite heavy police presence at the entrance.
The New Orleans Advocate reported that some protesters were pepper-sprayed by campus police as they tried to get in. Two people were also arrested, but later released.
Pepper spray deployed on students and crowd at Dillard pic.twitter.com/nCMTYbjlAv— Caresse Jackman (@CaresseJ) November 3, 2016
Raycom Media, the event’s sponsor, announced there would be no audience for the debate but would not attribute the decision to Duke’s participation.
University officials said they did not know who would be allowed to participate in the debate before they agreed to host the event.
Duke passed the 5 percent support threshold necessary to make it onto the stage in a poll by Raycom earlier this month .
A group called Socially Engaged Dillard University Students released a letter criticizing the university for allowing Duke’s presence.
"Everything David Duke promotes is an anathema to us, a Historically Black College & University," the letter stated, according to the Washington Examiner. "Instead of denying the presence of this terrorist onto our campus, our school's president has assured his safety by Dillard University armed police, against us, the Dillard University student body."
Duke commented on the protests during his closing statements.
“There was a demo out here, by the Black Lives Matter radicals,” Duke said. “Why is that? Because I stand up for you. The Black Lives Matter movement calls for the murder of police officers and death to police. I defend you and our country from these radicals who are destroying America.”
“This is the tipping point,” he added. “We are getting outnumbered and outvoted.”