How did Gavin McInnes get onto Columbia University's campus?

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How did Gavin McInnes get onto Columbia University’s campus amid pro-Palestine protests?

Supposedly only people with University IDs are being let in.


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Apr 25, 2024

Gavin McInnes, a far-right media provocateur who founded VICE and later the Proud Boys street gang, was spotted on Columbia University’s campus yesterday as student-led protests against the University’s investment in Israel continued into its fifth day.

“SPOTTED: Gavin McInnes, the found[er] of the ‘Proud Boys’ and co-founder of VICE, spotted at the Columbia University Encampment Protest,” tweeted @ScooterCasterNY on Wednesday over a video captured by’s @yyeeaahhhboiii2.

In the video, McInnes is dressed like a parody of a campus activist, wearing a communist style red star hat, a military style jacket, square glasses, and a patterned scarf that resembles a keffiyeh.

Some people pointed to McInnes’ presence on the campus as proof that the protests were actually animated by antisemitism, given his history of rubbing shoulders with antisemites and racists.

“Was Gavin also a regular at Columbia before the protests?” asked @JoshuaParkhurst in response to a thread by the novelist Keith Gessen questioning the narrative that the pro-Palestine protesters were bringing antisemitism to a campus which has a long history of excluding Jews.

But the narrative that McInnes’ presence at the protest meant that the demonstration was antisemitic was quickly pushed back on by Gessen and others.

“Are you seriously suggesting that an encampment mostly comprised of young women of color is a place where Gavin M is welcome? Is Mike Johnson also associated with the protest for you? He too was at Columbia today,” Gessen tweeted at Parkhurst.

“Antisemites are antisemites whether they are young women of color or Proud Boys,” Parkhurst answered. “I do not care if they like each other. I care that they both hate the same people.”

“Fine, great, but your post suggested that McInnes was there because he was welcome there–which you surely know is false,” Gessen replied.

Other posters warned against the idea that McInnes being there meant anything about the composition of the protests, pointing out that he was likely there to get the reflected media glow of the protests, which have become a fixture of national news coverage and political conversations.

“PSA: Gavin McInnes (former Proud Boys leader) showing up to Columbia does not make the protest antisemitic. It makes him opportunistic (which we knew already). He’s there to cash in on media exposure.” tweeted Kathellen Bewlew, an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern. 

Yet others were concerned about how McInnes got onto the campus to begin with.

According to Columbia’s independent student news blog Bwog, McInnes was seen around the Butler lawn area of the campus, near the Butler library.

According to Bwog, Columbia is only allowing campus access to Columbia University ID holders for over a week. McInnes’ presence on the campus came at the same time that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and congressional Republicans held a press conference in front of the library. A Public Safety officer told Bwog that they hadn’t been aware of McInnes’ presence on campus, but that it “concerns” them. 

A Public Safety investigator didn’t immediately respond to questions from the Daily Dot about how McInnes got onto the campus or what the access policies currently are.

Pro-Palestine protests on college campuses have sprung up across the country in recent weeks and has largely been undeterred by police crackdowns.

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*First Published: Apr 25, 2024, 1:26 pm CDT