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Tipsheet

Riley Gaines Responds to SFSU Official Who Praised 'Peaceful' Protesters That Violently Assaulted Her

AP Photo/Darren Abate

Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines was stunned by the response a San Francisco State University official gave to the protesters who violently assaulted her and forced her to barricade in a room for safety for nearly three hours last week. 

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During the event, where Gaines was speaking about her experience competing against biological male "Lia" Thomas, trans activists not only berated her, one allegedly hit her twice. They also demanded payment to let her leave the room she was escorted to for safety.  

Commenting on the incident, Jamillah Moore, SFSU’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, praised the protesters for how they engaged with Gaines.

Today, San Francisco State finds itself again at the center of a national discussion regarding freedom of speech and expression. Let me begin by saying clearly: the trans community is welcome and belongs at San Francisco State University. Further, our community fiercely believes in unity, connection, care and compassion, and we value different ideas, even when they are not our own. SF State is regularly noted as one of the most diverse campuses in the United States—this is what makes us Gators, and this is what makes us great. Diversity promotes critical discussions, new understandings and enriches the academic experience. But we may also find ourselves exposed to divergent views and even views we find personally abhorrent. These encounters have sometimes led to discord, anger, confrontation and fear. We must meet this moment and unite with a shared value of learning. 

Thank you to our students who participated peacefully in Thursday evening’s event. It took tremendous bravery to stand in a challenging space. I am proud of the moments where we listened and asked insightful questions. I am also proud of the moments when our students demonstrated the value of free speech and the right to protest peacefully. These issues do not go away, and these values are very much at our core. 

This feels difficult because it is difficult. As you reflect, process, and begin to heal, please remember that there are people, resources and services available and ready to receive our Gator community, including faculty, staff members, coaches and mentors who are here to support you.  

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“I'm sorry did this just say PEACEFUL.... I was assaulted. I was extorted and held for random [sic]. The protestors demanded I pay them if I wanted to make it home safely. I missed my flight home because I was barricaded in a classroom... We must have different definitions of peaceful.”

As multiple videos from the event make clear, the protest was hardly peaceful. 

“I have no problem with ‘peaceful’ protest,” Gaines continued. “I actually welcome it. I was grateful to see a diverse crowd in the room during my speech which I expressed multiple times. We had great dialogue and listened to each other. But that ambush was the opposite of peaceful.”

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