Salonen: What were protesters at Candace Owens event protesting?

Columnist Roxane B. Salonen writes about her experience attending the Candace Owens event at North Dakota State University earlier this month.

Roxane B. Salonen.jpg

I arrived at the recent Turning Point USA event, featuring conservative commentator Candace Owens, in time to join a friend. He’d been challenging a group of protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in the hall outside the Oceti Sakowin Ballroom at North Dakota State University.

Several weeks prior, Owens and her friend Kanye West, both Black, had caused a stir by wearing “White Lives Matter” T-shirts at a public gathering in Paris. Since most of the ruckus at NDSU happened before my arrival, I didn’t hear my friend Zachary Stolp, who is also Black, asking the protesters why there weren’t any Blacks among them.

I find it curious that Owens would be protested by BLM promoters, and wonder if only certain Black lives matter to the organization. Otherwise, wouldn’t Owens be honored, not denounced? Perhaps her Daily Wire documentary exposing how millions of BLM donations went into buying mansions instead of helping people hit a nerve.

It struck me, too, that many within the group of protesters were faces I see regularly at the Red River Women’s Clinic volunteering as abortion escorts, while I am there with fellow prayer advocates protesting abortion as a legitimate and good choice. Our roles were reversed.

Certainly, the protesters had as much right to be there as we sidewalk advocates do at our area’s only operational abortion facility in Moorhead. But what, I ask, were they really protesting?


As I made my way past their angry circle, I entered a room of excited energy, smiles and optimism. I heard messages of inspiration and rising above. I saw young people of all colors, many who’ve been told their best friend is despondency, now being given a boost of life.

Midway through Owens' speech, the alarm went off. Apparently, the detractors decided to use a tactic more befitting of a tired toddler than an adult to make their point. Owens hardly skipped a beat, transitioning to questions from the audience even as the alarm sounded.

As she talked, the protesters continued their rabble-rousing in the hall. But now, their muffled din stood starkly against the enthusiasm within.

Stolp was among those who asked Owens a question; his was about the genocide of abortion. Owens noted that Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, “a devout eugenicist,” had been forthright about her goal: the extermination of “undesirables,” targeting the Black population in particular.

Some 18 to 19 million Black babies have been annihilated by the organization, Owens noted. The Black population would be double today if not for Planned Parenthood. “That,” she said, “should make everybody sick.”

The protesters don’t seem to know about this history, and I’m left with the sight of them standing in the hall, empty-handed, with nothing substantial to offer the conversation. Had they really wanted fruitful dialogue, and productive answers to society’s ills, they would have joined us in the ballroom and entered into an honest discourse.

Thankfully, it’s not too late, for the door of life is always open to all.

Salonen, a wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker in Fargo. Email her at, and find more of her work at Peace Garden Passage,


This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

Opinion by Roxane B. Salonen
Salonen, a wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker in Fargo. Email her at, and find more of her work at Peace Garden Passage,
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