Three preachers draw crowd, ire outside library


ALEK FLEURY / The Vermont Cynic

At 12:45 p.m. today, in front of a preacher calling out to students outside the Bailey/Howe Library, a UVM sophomore kissed the man that he loved.

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

John, the first of three preachers to speak to crowds of students today, stood on a rock across from Bailey/Howe Library at 12:45 p.m.

John and the group of students argued as he held a sign that read “SELF” on one side and “TRUTH” on the other and spoke against homosexuality, pornography and premarital sex.

Students videotaped John and responded to his comments.

ALEK FLEURY / The Vermont Cynic

Three UVM police officers, including Deputy Chief Tim Bilodeau, 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.”

By 1 p.m., 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.



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

MARIEL WAMSLEY / The Vermont Cynic

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


Around that time, sophomore RiRi Stuart-Thompson arrived with a megaphone and joined sophomore Manza Campaz in speaking to the students.

“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.”

MARIEL WAMSLEY / The Vermont Cynic

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

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

Bilodeau shook Campaz’s hand after the student put down his megaphone.

“Thank you,” Bilodeau said.

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.”

MARIEL WAMSLEY / The Vermont Cynic

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

“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.