Former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka speaks in Erie, leads to protests
ERIE, P.A (WICU-WSEE/CW) – Inside the Jefferson Educational Society, a sold-out crowd sat to hear Dr. Sebastian Gorka, as he discussed his time advising then-candidate, and now President Donald Trump.
Gorka served as the President’s deputy assistant from January 2017 until August 2017.
He currently works as a Fox News contributor and continues to champion the president’s approach to national security and other world efforts.
Gorka also reflected on where the Trump administration will progress after this year's midterm elections.
He told Erie News Now, he hoped to cut through what he says is a distorted and falsely reported view of the president, to show people who the man really is.
But outside, a group of roughly 30 peaceful protestors gathered before, during and after the speech to question why sponsor Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the JES would host Gorka to speak in Erie.
Erie Police officers stood near the group as they stood on the sidewalk just outside the center.
Protestors held up signs reading “Erie Unites against Hate” “Fearmongering Does Not Promote Civic Engagement.” And “Gorka’s Views are not Erie’s Views.”
Erie man, Abdullah Washington joined the protestors with a sign reading “Gorka: How much did LECOM pay you.”
Washington says while it's Gorka’s first-amendment right to speak his mind, he says his well-known views on topics like immigration, Islam and his alleged ties to pro-Nazi groups should have prevented his inclusion in the series.
"I think the problem that I have is that these are two institutions that know full well, his message." Washington said
“I don’t think it’s proper to give him that type of platform considering his known associates.”
Washington says Gorka’s alleged anti-Semitic involvement made him inappropriate to speak on a site that hosts the Brith Shalom Congregation. Washington pointed to the recent mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27 as being too soon to host the speech.
A comment on the JES’s Facebook page for the event referenced the speech taking place shortly before the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a 1938 Nazi Germany campaign which destroyed hundreds of synagogues and killed close to 100 Jews.
When we spoke with Gorka prior to his speech, he denounced antisemitism and said the shooting in Pittsburgh went beyond just being a hate crime.
"Antisemitism has to be treated as a scourge in American society." Gorka said
But protestors like Abdullah didn't buy it, saying Gorka’s message only serves to divide people. Washington says the protestors only assembled to seek unity in the first place.
"The more we are together, the less can separate us, and that's the danger, is that we will be separate, and turned against each other.” Washington said
When asked, Gorka said he was willing to speak with protestors, but said he thinks they wouldn't be open to doing the same. He says most do not care to discuss substance and policy.
"The left has become anti-first amendment, and that's very sad." Gorka said
Washington said Gorka’s viewpoints do not deserve a true discussion.
"That's their language, and we can't be about that." Washington said.
This statement below was released by Jefferson Educational Society President, Ferki Ferati prior to Gorka’s arrival.
Director of Operations at the Jefferson Educational Society Ben Speggen backed up the statement from Ferati.
“Given Dr. Gorka’s position inside the administration as a deputy assistant and senior top aide, he a lot to lend to us.” Speggen said
Speggen visited with protestors prior to Dr.Gorka’s speech.