Students and Pentecostal protesters face off in front of MD Anderson Library
A mass of angry students and religious protesters clashed early Thursday afternoon in front of MD Anderson Library.
The protest started around noon when 35 members of several Pentecostal churches began picketing in Butler Plaza with signs deriding homosexuality and other “sins,” informing the reader they would burn in hell.
A crowd of students quickly amassed in counter-protest, standing in a wall in front of the library holding printed signs and chanting as UHPD officers cordoned off the sidewalk to separate the two groups.
Footage of the incident provided to the Cougar by communication science and disorders senior Rebecca Lenzo shows a crowd of students growing to at least 30 people around the religious protesters before taking position in front of the library and on the balcony of the Rockwell Pavilion.
In videos captured of the protest, the two groups traded off between shouting at each other with students and Pentecostals occasionally stepping onto the sidewalk between them, which had been cleared and cordoned off by police.
Student protesters printed flyers reading “Let them wear pants,” which they held up and chanted at several points. It’s unclear what either group was saying at many points in the protest footage obtained by The Cougar.
For many eyewitnesses the event wasn’t extraordinary, as religious protests have been a common sight in past semesters.
Biology sophomore Zakariya Ali said he’s no longer concerned when religious protesters show up to campus because he thinks they’re just looking for attention.
“My first semester I was like, ‘oh, wow, this is crazy,'” Ali said. “Now it’s like ‘oh, just another group.’ It’s not like you’re not gonna change their minds by yelling at them.”
Around 2 p.m., the religious protesters began to make their way toward the Welcome Center parking garage to leave, but they were forced to wait due to a fire alarm going off in the garage. One member of the group stayed behind near the Hilton to continue arguing with a small group of students who had trailed behind.
According to the pastor for Pentecostal Lighthouse Ministries Josh Herridge from Livingston, one of the parishes that took part in the protest, the group will be protesting Friday at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.