Riley Gaines, a former NCAA champion swimmer at Kentucky, opened up Wednesday about the harrowing experience she faced at San Francisco State University after her event was finished.
Gaines, who has been a champion of female athletes’ rights and disagrees with transgender women having the ability to compete against biological women, appeared on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” and explained that she welcomes the protesters and differences of opinion but what she experienced at the university was over the top.
She described the situation to Dakich, detailing how things went from tense to extreme.
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“I give my speech and, of course, there’s many protesters in the room. But I welcome protesters. I welcome people with different perspectives,” Gaines said. “That’s why I choose to go somewhere like San Francisco. I know a lot of them won’t agree with me but that’s who I want to get in front of. That’s who I want to change their minds to see from my perspective. So there was lots of protesters and it was relatively civil. There was some heckling. But it was good.
“After the event, almost as soon as it finished, it was as if the floodgates opened and I was rushed. People from outside the classroom rushed in. They flickered the lights off. They stormed the podium and they were pushing and shoving and hitting. And I was supposed to meet with the head of campus police a half an hour before the event to discuss an exit strategy if this happened but the police never showed up to meet me. And so, I had no idea there was even police in the room. So at this moment I feared for my life. It’s so chilling to know what these people want to do to you and what they’re willing to do to you. At this point, an undercover police (officer) grabbed me, which I truly didn’t want to follow her at the time because I didn’t really believe she was the police, but she was saying, ‘Come with me, come with me’ and I didn’t have much of an option.
“She’s pushing me along. We exit the classroom into the hallway to where it was filled with more protesters – I’m talking hundreds. We could not exit the building. We were on the third floor and the stairways were packed. We had to resort to going into another classroom along that hallway where I was barricaded in for three hours.”
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Gaines detailed what happened in the three hours she feared for her life inside a classroom, not knowing if she was going to be able to leave.
“And in these three hours, these protesters they sat outside, they banged on walls, they stomped on the floor, they screamed terrible, violent, awful things to both myself and the campus police who were there. I missed my flight home because I was stuck in this room. They were negotiating money with the dean of students if I wanted to make it home safely,” she said. “They claimed if I got paid by the university to be there. It’s only fair that they get paid if I get to make it home safely, which first of all I didn’t get paid by the university to be there. That was a misconception.
“It just felt like the police weren’t doing their job adequately because they were terrified. They didn’t want to be accused of anything. They didn’t want to be assertive in any way that they could make it look like they were anything other than an ally to this community.
“The dean of students, the administration, the university – they handled this poorly. Extremely poorly. And since then, they released statements saying they are so proud of their brave students for handling such a controversial situation so well and being so peaceful. And they actually said the police force was excessive and uncalled for and that I was the one spreading violence. It just shows you how universities and how administrations in the direction they’re going. And it is not a positive direction. These are the people who are teaching the next generation but they’re not teaching them to be willing to be in a situation where you can have open dialogue and hear different perspectives. They’re teaching that if you disagree with someone, it’s OK to be violent. It’s OK to not want to listen and do everything you can to suppress their speech.”
Jamillah Moore, the university’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, sent an email to the student body and made no mention of an apology to Gaines. Instead, Moore praised the “tremendous bravery” of protesters and thanked the students for participating “peacefully.”
RILEY GAINES BLASTS SF STATE FACULTY MEMBER WHO CALLED PROTESTS AT HEART OF INCIDENT ‘PEACEFUL’
“I feared for my life in that moment,” Gaines told Dakich. “Yet (Jamillah Moore) is gonna call it peaceful? Like we’re negotiating ransom if I wanted to make it home safely and she’s gonna call it peaceful? We must have totally different definitions of peaceful because that is not peaceful to me. The protesters who were in the room initially that had orchestrated a sit-in… I knew it was going to happen. I knew there was gonna be this sit-in. I had gotten word of it before I got there. And I’m totally fine with the sit-in. I’m totally fine if people want to come and express their views. I open it up for questions at the end, to which I answered all of their questions. There were some individuals I had great dialogue with. That is peaceful protests for the most part. Again, there was some heckling. There were some things that probably could’ve been avoided but I’m totally cool with that.
“But being rushed. Being physically and verbally assaulted. That is not peaceful by any means. Truthfully, I think this backfired on the protesters because this only really increased my social media following. It only increased people’s eyes being open to seeing how unhinged these people can be in the disguise of being kind an inclusive and tolerant. This was not done out of tolerance or love and compassion. Vengeful is what it is. They were yelling in the hallway – ‘Trans rights are under attack. What do we do? We fight back.’ That’s not peaceful.”
Gaines added that she’s never going to stop fighting for female athletes and said that’s why it’s important for her to get out to campuses and talk about her battle.
“I would take a right hook from Mike Tyson if it meant defending girls’ rights in spaces,” Gaines said. “This doesn’t deter me. This doesn’t make me want to be quiet. It doesn’t make me want to hide.
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“I believe it’s so important to talk to this demographic – people my age. People who are in this younger generation. They’re the ones who need to hear it, clearly, as seen in San Francisco. This does not want to make me shut my mouth and kindly smile and allow men to take over. It does quite the opposite.”