Posters bearing the text “Trannies Are Gay” in bold lettering were taken down by university and Newark police on Monday, hours before Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled event in Mitchell Hall.
The text was written across headshots of First Lady Michelle Obama, Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and actress Hari Nef. Another poster read “Trans = Mentally Ill,” accompanied by the image of a disembodied straight jacket.
According to university spokesperson Andrea Boyle-Tippett, university police noticed approximately 20 signs taped outside across campus including Smith Hall, Purnell Hall and the Amy E. DuPont Music Building. Several posters were additionally found off-campus, taped to telephone poles on main streets and parking meters on Amstel Avenue. They were taken down after Newark Police Department asked UDPD to remove them on their behalf.
Yiannopoulos’ appearance, sponsored by the university’s chapter of the College Republicans, has been a point of contention across campus for weeks. Eighteen student organizations signed a petition asking the university to cancel the event last month. Yiannopoulos’ events were recently canceled at New York University and the University of Maryland, both citing “security concerns.”
It is still unclear who posted the fliers across campus. However, the College Republicans denied any involvement.
“We had nothing to do with them,” Andrew Lipman, the former president of College Republicans and the current chairman of the Delaware Federation of College Republicans, said. “Our club did not hang them up, we did not know about them, we had nothing whatsoever to do with them.”
University spokesperson Andrea Boyle-Tippett confirmed that the College Republicans were not responsible.
“We checked with the College Republicans once they were discovered and the College Republicans had nothing to do with their appearance,” Boyle-Tippett said. “They just appeared this morning.”
According to the university’s poster policy, commercial promotions are not allowed on university property and the university maintains the right to clear any materials, at any time. Bulletin boards are “intended for the notices and other materials related to the program and goals of the university,” the policy states.
The policy also states that organizations, individuals and departments must cover the cost for the removal of unauthorized posting. For every individual item posted, there is a $5 removal charge.
It is not yet clear if Milo Yiannopoulos or his production team will be charged for the fliers posted around campus.
“If you can’t cope with words on a poster, how are you going to cope with having your d— cut off?” Yiannopoulos asked his audience during his event last night.
He mentioned the posters at the beginning of his lecture.
“I was very upset to learn about some very hurtful and offensive posters going up around campus.” he said. “Very upsetting. The most upsetting is someone is using my logo and they didn’t license it.”
Senior Jay Alston, the president of Haven, the university’s LGBTQ organization, said his first thought when waking up on Monday was about the safety of his group.
“I’ve been waiting for the worst all day,” Alston said. “Where I just get the call, this person [in Haven] was harassed, screamed at, beat up or worse.”
Senior student activist Sage Carson pointed out how, unlike the event itself, the fliers were unavoidable.
“When we met with [the College Republicans] they said, ‘oh, well, you’re only going to have to deal with it if you go to the event,’ but as we saw this morning, you didn’t have to show up to the event, he was going to shove it in your face no matter what,” she said.
Senior Emily Bower noticed the posters around 11 a.m. this morning as she walked down Academy Street on her way to class. She posted a video of herself taking down the poster on Facebook.
“I wanted to rip it down and it actually felt really good, to physically change the situation,” Bower said.
Bower said she believes the posters reflect the same hateful rhetoric that caused the initial controversy surrounding the announcement of his event.
“I was in shock when they announced that he was coming,” she said. “I didn’t realize we had an audience that would come and support him.”
Bower’s godmother identifies as transgender.
At the end of Yiannopoulos’ event, he told the audience that there were some leftover posters that he needed to get rid of. They were the same posters found across campus.
The audience rushed the stage.
Editor’s note: The t-word is used in this story because we felt the censored version of the word would be indiscernible to some readers. The Review condemns the use of this slur but also wanted to convey the posters’ language as clearly and accurately as possible.