Preachers lose the crowd

UVM students with megaphones calm angry crowd


News Staff Report

A sophomore kissed the man he loved in front of a man preaching on campus outside of the library Monday, Oct. 23.

The preacher, identified only as “John,” looked on with disgust and criticized the two men,  sophomore Thomas Rattigan said.

The preacher stood on a rock across from Bailey/Howe Library and spoke to a group of students gathered around him.

At first, students videotaped John and responded to his comments.

But by 1 p.m., the crowd started to move towards two students with megaphones.

Sophomores RiRi Stuart-Thompson and Manza Campaz stood on a rock next to the preacher.

“Do not give him your attention,” Stuart-Thompson said into her megaphone, “You have midterms to study for.”

Students walked from a circle around the preacher over to Campaz and Stuart-Thompson.

Campaz led the crowd in call-and-response chants.

“You don’t have control over me; I am free.”

“Be pro-gay; be pro-black; be who you are.”

The crowd of students cheered for Campaz and Stuart-Thompson.

“Disperse; go to class; do not give this man your attention,” Stuart-Thompson said.

UVM police Deputy Chief Tim Bilodeau shook Campaz’s hand after the student put down his megaphone.

“Thank you,” Bilodeau said.

John continued to hold a sign that read “SELF” on one side and “TRUTH” on the other and spoke against homosexuality, pornography and premarital sex even though a majority of his crowd has disappeared.

Three UVM police officers stood around the crowd. The police put up caution tape around the preacher after students began moving closer to him.

“You will need to meet Jesus,” the preacher said. “Jesus will save the sinners.”

More than 100 people were gathered around the preacher.

“I am gay and God loves me,” one member of the crowd said, to which the students responded with cheers and applause.

Christopher Vaccaro, a senior lecturer in the English department, walked up to the caution tape to address the preacher.

“Shame, shame, shame,” Vaccaro said, pointing his finger at the preacher.

By 1:15 p.m. a small crowd remained around John.

At 2 p.m., a second preacher identified only as “Mike” replaced John. Mike told the crowd that he loved them despite their wickedness.

“He’s speaking of religion,” sophomore Adie Feigenbaum said. “He has some good thoughts, but he keeps coming back to religion.”

Feigenbaum said she felt the preacher was coming from a place of judgment.

“It’s not relatable,” she said. “No one here is relating.”

By 2:20 p.m., a third preacher identified as “Keith” replaced Mike.

Police began taking caution tape down around 3:40 p.m.