Donald Trump paid a visit to the historically black Benedict College on Friday, but almost none of the students there would get the chance to meet, or even see, the president during his brief stay there.
As The State reported, students at the small South Carolina college were told to stay in their dorms during Trump’s visit to their campus on Friday to deliver a speech on criminal justice. The report noted that the decision to keep students in what was described as a “lockdown” was made as part of a larger safety plan that school administrators and Secret Service came up with together.
As college spokeswoman spokeswoman Kymm Hunter said in a statement, classes were canceled and the campus came to a standstill as Trump arrived to speak about justice reform to a small audience.
“The campus was closed and streets surrounding the campus were shut down to all vehicle traffic from 1:30 p.m. -3:00 p.m. Faculty, staff, and student who were on campus were asked to stay inside, but if anyone needed to go to work or to another building, it was not problem,” Hunter said.
Only a very small number of students were able to see that speech. As the report noted, there were approximately 300 people in the audience for Trump’s speech, and just 10 of those were students.
The restrictions on Benedict students didn’t sit very well with Stephen Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, where the college is located. Benjamin told CNN that the president of the college asked that the students be allowed to attend Trump’s speech, but the White House declined and wanted to keep strict control over the event.
“This should have been an opportunity for at least scores of students to attend this event,” Benjamin said.
The restrictions on students at the historically black college were even more controversial given that the speech came just days after Donald Trump compared the impeachment inquiry he now faces to a “lynching.”
The remarks were widely decried, with many calling on Trump to apologize for comparing the political investigation to the acts of racist violence that took place across the same state that Trump visited on Friday. Trump refused to apologize for the comparison, and has continued to claim that the impeachment inquiry is a politically motivated witch hunt and personally unfair to him.
Donald Trump was met with dozens of protesters at the event on Friday.