A planned protest on the campus of Dillard University, a historic black college in New Orleans, led to police pepper-straying and arresting demonstrators.

On Wednesday night, Dillard held a U.S. Senate debate, which included candidate David Duke. Duke is best known for his time as a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon and later, a KKK grand wizard, the head of the white supremacist organization.

Duke was included in the debate after he acquired the requisite 5 percent polling benchmark, set by Raycom Media, as the Associated Press noted. The debate was broadcast through much of the state of Louisiana.

Many were angered by Duke’s inclusion in the debate, particularly since it was held at a historic black college and Duke has a past as a white supremacist. In reaction to this, one group of students, calling itself the Socially Engaged Dillard University Students, planned a protest of the debate.

“His presence on our campus is not welcome, and overtly subjects the entire student body to safety risks and social ridicule,” SEDUS representatives wrote in an open letter obtained by WGNO. “This is simply outrageous.”

“Everything David Duke promotes is an anathema to us, a Historically Black College & University,” the letter said. “Instead of denying the presence of this terrorist onto our campus, our school’s president has assured his safety by Dillard University armed police, against us, the Dillard University student body.”


Police keep protesters from pushing through a door, before a debate for Louisiana candidates for the U.S. Senate, at Dillard University in New Orleans on Wednesday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

The protest lasted hours on Wednesday, but eventually turned discordant as protesters attempted to force their way into the building housing the debate.

“No Duke. No KKK. No fascist USA,” yelled one protester.

Police confronted the protesters, pepper-spraying some.

“We were holding the door open and they pepper-sprayed me. She was just standing. There for no reason. It’s a damn shame,” protester Semhal Abbady told WDSU. “They started releasing pepper spray,” said Annah Galloway. “They sprayed this girl directly in the face with it. I was covered on my shirt, my arms, my face — they are pepper-spraying. They are body-slamming people.”

Two others, the Advocate noted, were arrested but later released.

No serious injuries were sustained during the protest.

Meanwhile, during the debate, Duke fought with the moderator and called Jews “tribalist” after being asked about his earlier remarks about “CNN Jews.”

“There is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful, tribal group that dominates our media and dominates our international banking,” Duke said. “I’m not opposed to all Jews.”

Later in the debate, Democratic candidate Caroline Fayard called Duke a “bad man” and a “snake” who had “slithered out of the swamp.”

At one point, Duke said, “I will be Donald Trump’s most loyal advocate.”

Duke has always been a contentious figure in Louisiana politics. When he ran for Louisiana governor in 1991, his opponent Edwin Edwards, who had previously stood trial on charges of charges of mail fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery, defeated him.

Edwards’s unofficial campaign sticker read, “Vote for the crook; it’s important.”

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