By Hannah Yates and Christian Sutton
A protester made a direct campus code violation while preaching controversial messages on American River College’s campus on Oct. 31.
The individual held a sign and used a speaker in the quad between the library and Student Center, while a Los Rios Police Department officer stood in front of the library to supervise the situation. His message was about becoming a born again Christian and the dangers of Halloween and while not directly included on the sign, he also made comments regarding other religious groups.
Passerby crowded in front of the Student Center after hearing the noise.
Los Rios Police Department Captain Chris Day told the protester that he was in violation of regulations about amplified sound on campus. At that point he stopped using the speaker.
“[Protesters] have to get permits form our Operations Department to have amplified sound on campus,” Day said. “He is free to use freedom of speech and be out here, but he needs a permit from campus to have amplified sound and he does not have a permit on record.”
The conditions for use of outdoor areas is covered in Los Rios Community College District’s Administration Regulation 1413, which are “developed to assure that sound at events held on District/College property is maintained at a reasonable level and is not disruptive to District/College activities or communities.”
The protester’s sign read a list of people who should repent, which included “sports nut(s),” “LGBTQ,” “lukewarm Christian(s),” “idol worshippers,” and “drunks,” among others.
While ARC provides space for constitutionally protected free speech, visitors can not disrupt campus functions, according to ARC’s Public Information Officer Scott Crow.
“When outside groups visit the campus with images and/or conveyed beliefs/values in ways intended to garner maximum attention and/or illicit a reaction from the college community, such approaches have the potential to cause concern among some of our community members,” Crow wrote in an email to the Current. “The fact that demonstrators are on our campus is not necessarily an indication of American River College’s values or views.”
In response to the protester, student workers from the Center for Leadership and Development made a poster and passed out paper hearts to the people gathered, and tried to engage students in discussion.
Joshua Moon Johnson, the dean of Equity Programs and Pathways, along with other representatives from the CLD asked the crowd to refrain from giving the man attention and furthering the effect on the community.
“The best thing to do to avoid him, if no one pays attention to him, no one will donate to him and he will not come back to our campus,” Moon Johnson said.
Students from the Center spoke about their own values.
Biology major Aesha Abduljabbar works in the Center for Leadership and Development as a SAGE, and said that the protester did not represent the community’s values.
“ARC celebrates diversity and love and other religions. All students are mixed, they’re from everywhere, and this person is not representing someone who is Christian,” Abduljabbar said. “He is representing someone that just hates.”
One of the watchers was American Sign Language major Joseph Robinson, who rejected the protester’s message as a fellow Christian.
“The man who is claiming to be a worshipper of God is not a true worshipper because he’s saying that Jesus Christ hates gay people when he loves all his children, no matter their race, sexual orientation or any of that,” Robinson said. “He’s not representing my God. … God loves all his children no matter what.”
Abduljabbar said that as a Muslim, she believes that there are better ways to approach conversations about religious differences, and has learned about acceptance and Christianity through friends.
“Tell people what Christianity really means. Tell it in a beautiful way that others — you invite others to your religion. You don’t push other people away,” she said. “[Religion is] something you do from your heart, and if someone else doesn’t choose it, you respect them. Because at the end, we don’t forget that we’re humans.”