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Students, labour groups worried alt-right, anti-SOGI groups will crash UBC Pride

Last Updated Sep 6, 2019 at 4:39 pm PDT

Controversial anti-SOGI speaker Jenn Smith. (Source: Facebook)
Summary

There's a chance anti-SOGI and alt-right groups could be crashing UBC's Pride events Friday, and students are concerned

Controversial speaker Jenn Smith has posted online about attending, and there's a chance Soldiers of Odin could as well

UBC says it has safety and security measures in place for the event

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Pride festivities will be getting underway Friday at UBC, but some students, labour and activist groups are worried alt-right and anti-SOGI groups are planning to stir up trouble.

The group UBC Students Against Bigotry is concerned anti-SOGI activist Jenn Smith, and even members of Soldiers of Odin could show up. UBC was barred from joining Vancouver’s Pride Parade over the summer after the school hosted an event by Smith earlier this year.

“I think there’s a pretty legitimate fear of some sort of some sort of violence or provocation or targeting from these transphobic individuals,” says a student from the group, who requested their name be withheld for fear of retribution. “Particularly queer people are going to feel threatened, intimidated by their presence. That’s their goal. That’s what they’re doing with this and they understand that.”

BC Federation of Labour said in a statement they are concerned “alt-right” groups could attend “with attempts to provoke or initiate violence as they have attempted to do in other cities such as Hamilton and Toronto.” The labour group is hosting a rally ahead of Friday’s events to show support for LGBTQ students.

Smith mused about attending Pride in a Facebook post, saying “I may need some big guys to escort me, lol.” Members of Soldiers of Odin responded on Smith’s Facebook post, but it’s unclear whether they will attend.

In an email, Smith says he hasn’t invited Soldiers of Odin, and so far he’s undecided on if he’s going to Pride.

“I have no affiliation with the Soldiers of Odin and have not invited them to go anywhere or do anything for me. As I have considered the possibility of going to the UBC Pride event, and whereas I have received numerous threats to my person, I had suggested on my Facebook that I might need a couple of large guys to accompany me just to keep me safe, Not to cause any trouble, because I have never caused any trouble anywhere,” he says. “Now because there are angry activist groups who wish me harm, I did talk about perhaps finding a couple of bodyguards to prevent me from being attacked.”

Members from Soldiers of Odin previously attended Smith’s presentations on Vancouver Island.

Smith says he is hoping to go to UBC Pride “just to mingle with the people and perhaps allow them to get to know me and know that I’m not the terrible things people make me out to be.”

UBC has security in place

Ali Mojedhi with Campus Security for UBC, says the school has measures in place to make sure students are safe.

“We are unable to disclose specific measures due to the attached risk around individuals trying to bypass them. What I can say is that staff and volunteers will all be trained on the event safety plan,” he said in an email statement. “As this is a licensed event, it will be fenced and numbers and access will be monitored. In the event that protestors choose to attend, Campus Security staff who are well-versed on the Positive Space goals of the event will provide them with a space outside the event to respectfully voice their opinions without disrupting the event.”

“The university strives to provide a welcoming environment in which all individuals can visit, work and study without threat to personal safety or property, or disruption. We expect all our community members and guests to adhere to this. If threats or disruptions do take place, appropriate security action will be taken.”