A conservative activist helping recruit for a student group at the University of California-Berkeley this week is speaking out after he says he was the victim of a random, violent attack.
Hayden Williams appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Thursday, still sporting the bruised eye he suffered after being punched by a total stranger. Williams said the drama unfolded as he was manning the recruiting table for conservative student group Turning Point USA when, suddenly, two guys stormed over and started cursing at him.
Describing their behavior as “erratic,” Williams said the men were apparently upset over a a sign displayed at the table that read “hate crime hoaxes hurt real victims” — a reference to reports that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a racist, homophobic attack against himself in Chicago earlier this month.
“This person claimed we were were promoting violence on campus and proceeded to take his aggression out on us,” Williams, a field representative for the Leadership Institute, said of the Feb. 19 incident.
Fearing for his safety, the local activist said he took out his phone and started recording as soon as the men approached the table. That’s when he says one of the guys smacked the phone out of his hand. However, bystanders continued recording.
Video from the incident shows one of the men confront Williams, getting in his face and shouting expletives. At one point, the man threatens to “shoot” Williams if he puts his hands on him. A separate video captured the moment Williams was socked in the face.
Williams said there were plenty of witnesses who can verify he did nothing to provoke the attack, but added that no one ever stepped in to help.
“Some students nearby tabling were laughing, even one guy was smiling while I was being attacked and trying to hand me his flyer as a joke,” he told Campus Reform. “The idea is free speech has consequences, which include you getting assaulted if they find you promoting ideas others don’t agree with.”
News of the incident quickly spread on social media, where prominent conservatives wasted no time jumping to Williams’ defense while griping that the attack wasn’t getting enough media attention.
“Our very own, Hayden Williams, who helped us recruit
@ucsantabarbara was violently attacked by a @UCBerkeley student,” Turning Point USA tweeted. “Violent leftists need to be arrested and prosecuted instead of celebrated by their fellow liberal students who deliberately stand back and watch the attacks.”
Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in, writing, “When a liberal like Jussie cries wolf and fakes an attack, he receives unmatched coverage, sympathy & support, creating a tsunami of attention. When a conservative student literally gets punched in the face and it’s caught on video, it barely makes a ripple.”
Political commentator Jeff Kuhner opined that Williams was attacked by a “rabid liberal” for simply expressing ideas challenging leftist orthodoxy. When will conservatives realize they are now the most discriminated group in U.S. society?”
With the assailant still at large, UC Berkeley police are now asking the public to come forward with any information about the incident. In a statement, authorities said the scuffle occurred just before 3:30 p.m. on the university’s Upper Sproul Plaza.
“A physical confrontation ensued when one of the two men slapped the phone out of the victim’s hand,” according to the statement. “The suspect then knocked over the table the victim was at and the two men struggled over the phone. During the incident, the suspect punched the victim several times causing injury to the victim’s eye and nose.”
Guillermina Castro, a freshman at UC Berkeley, told Fox News she was spearheading the effort to establish a Turning Point USA chapter on campus and that Williams was manning the table while she was in class. Castro said she returned to find all the flyers on the table torn up and Williams nursing his eye.
The university has since issued the following statement:
“UC Berkeley strongly condemns violence and harassment of any sort, for any reason. That sort of behavior is reprehensible and intolerable. A message was sent by our police force to the campus community with a picture of the suspect and request that anyone with information come forward and report what they know. We intend to identify and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Watch more in the video below.