Two University of Minnesota students fought over the College Republicans’ panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge during Thursday’s Paint the Bridge event.
In a separate incident, the College Republicans' and the Turning Point USA's murals were vandalized between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The two incidents come after last year's controversy with the College Republicans' mural, where the student group's "Build the Wall" panel prompted protests involving over 100 students.
Imogen Page, a political science and global studies senior, said she approached the College Republicans' panels Thursday afternoon to tape signs reading “resist white supremacy” and “fight fascism,” among others, over them.
The mural displayed a train with the words “Trump Pence 2020," along with the phrases “still not tired of winning” and “least popular minority on campus.”
Page said the public espousal of Trump and his views on the bridge makes her and other students with marginalized identities feel unsafe.
“I don’t want to be on a campus where that kind of hate is given a platform,” Page said.
Ethan Bunn, a first-year political science and economics student and member of College Republicans, said he saw Page attempting to tape signs on the panels and tried to stop her.
Page said Bunn assaulted her, grabbing her arm and taking her papers and marker.
Bunn said he asked her to leave, kicked her papers and threw her marker, but didn’t assault or touch her.
Bystanders tried to intervene and called the University of Minnesota Police Department, Page and Bunn said. During this time, Page wrote “end white supremacy” on one of the student group's panels. The writing was removed before Friday morning.
“She kept trying to say, ‘Well, you must be a white supremacist because you’re against what I’m writing,’” Bunn said. “I told her, ‘You need to prove to me that Trump is a white supremacist.’ I’m not for white supremacy, either.”
Page posted two videos to Facebook showing her and Bunn arguing, in which he calls her a fascist and she accuses him of assaulting her. The videos have since been removed.
University police were called to the bridge after the altercation, said UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner.
UMPD also responded to a different incident related to the College Republicans' panels on the Washington Avenue Bridge Thursday night, Miner said.
Between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, the College Republicans' mural was defaced with the phrases, "You're not a minority" and "You're the oppressors."
On the mural for Turning Point USA — another conservative student group — the words "Fight Facism," "Punch Nazis" and "End White Supremacy" were added to the white stripes on the American flag. Madison Faupel, who was the president of the University's College Republicans last year during the Paint the Bridge event, is now listed as the president of Turning Point USA's UMN chapter.
Investigations into both incidents are ongoing, Miner said, and details should be released next week.