The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

UWL students clash with visiting preacher over abortion and LGBTQ+ rights

Heald speaking on UWL campus. Photo taken by Sophie Miller.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17 students gathered around Nicholas Heald, a preacher and Christian abolitionist [abolition of abortion], while he spoke against abortions and homosexuality.  

Heald was situated in between Wimberly Hall, the Student Union and Prairie Springs Science Center and attracted a large crowd of students throughout the afternoon.  

In a Facebook post from Heald, he said, “In fact it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever had gather while preaching on a college campus.”  

Heald stood with a sign with words from the Bible passage Proverbs 16:18. The sign said, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” At other times he held a sign which showed graphic images with the words “Abortion Victim” underneath. He also held the Bible.  

In an interview with The Racquet Press’s Social Justice Reporter Sophie Miller, Lukas Hanson, a second-year student from Westby, WI said, “Seeing this [Heald’s visit to UWL] kind of pisses me off.”  

Hanson continued, “I understand he has his free speech, and I don’t wish harm upon this man, but the fact that he came here to a very open, accepting campus where there are a lot of queer people and people of the LGBT community, such as myself, you can tell he is just trying to get a reaction and trying to spread his hatred.”  

Heald’s street preaching has previously resulted in attacks and theft of his property. 

“I don’t support people touching him or his property because that is a crime, that’s harassment. But I believe we can also use our First Amendment right to speak out against him and if there are more of us than him then more power to us,” said Hanson 

On Oct. 11 Heald visited UW-Milwaukee’s campus with a similar message. A body-cam video posted on Heald’s YouTube channel showed an individual taking Heald’s signage.  

Campus police stayed near the crowd and where Heald was talking.  

Third-year student Eric Teh from Malaysia was one of many students who gathered to protest Heald. He said, “While I do respect him using his freedom of speech. I come from a very conservative nation where being gay, being out is not really an acceptable thing so coming here [UWL] is like an escape.”  

Teh continued, “So seeing something like this displayed on a university campus where it’s supposed to be relatively liberal, is very disheartening. And I will use my right and freedom of speech to counter-protest this.”  

Student protesters wrote words in chalk under where Heald was standing to protest his speech.  

Heald is part of an organization called Abolitionists Rising. Their website states, “Abolitionists Rising exists to spread abolitionist ideas and support abolitionist organizations, projects, and legislation. Our goals are the abolition of abortion, the repentance of the nation, and the glorification of God.”  

Following Heald’s visit to UWL, Pro-Choice messages were written in chalk in front of the Student Union. “We are a Pro-Choice campus” was one of many messages.  

A UWL foreign exchange student from England said this in regard to the crowd gathered around Heald, “When you hear people shouting out and actually asking why and challenging his point of view, that has made me respect this campus even more as an outsider and made me feel safer on campus.” 

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About the Contributor
Isabel Piarulli
Isabel Piarulli, Executive Editor
Year at UWL: Junior PGPs: She/Her/Hers Hometown: Menasha, WI Major: Psychology and Political Science Minor: Communication Studies Other Campus Involvement: Student Association CASSH Senator, University Centers Admin Assistant, Psychology Club, Pre-Law Society member Future Plans after Graduation: Attend law school Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Visiting Pearl Street Books
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