Last Updated on February 17, 2022
Penn State student Avi Rachlin was assaulted on Friday by pro-vaccine mandate demonstrators while on campus. Rachlin, who is the founder of the “Penn State Resistance” student group, was attacked after he showed up to counter protest. Police are currently searching the attackers.
Rachlin, a junior, showed up to counter protest at an event organized by the “Coalition For A Just University” (CJU) group. “(CJU/PSU) is committed to working for greater transparency, equity, job security, and safety in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for the meaningful involvement of faculty and other workers in decision-making processes at the university,” reads the group’s mission statement.
Friday’s event was billed as a “Student-Faculty unity rally to vaccinate Penn State,” according to a flyer made by CJU. “We want to create space for expressions of support for a vaccine mandate at Penn State and expressions of concern about our unsafe conditions for teaching and learning,” the flyer stated.
Rachlin showed up with a sign that included Dr. Anthony Fauci’s evolving COVID timeline as well as statistics referencing low vaccination rates among the black community. The student told National File he wanted to include this because campus leftists have been enormous Black Lives Matter activists, which he found hypocritical. The other side of the sign was filled with memes.
Rachlin told National File that other counter protesters were present but were mostly contained to the periphery. He wanted to get up close, however, so he inserted himself into the crowd with his sign. “It was really tough to move, lots of people were trying to box me in everywhere I went,” said Rachlin. Eventually, multiple pro-vaccine mandate demonstrators can be seen swarming the counter protestor. One man wearing a white shirt and blue jeans can be seen striking Rachlin while trying to steal his sign.
“The one guy got me with his shoulder or his forearm and hit me pretty hard,” Rachlin said. The student was left with a bloody nose and ultimately checked in to a hospital to make sure he wasn’t concussed. He was released not long after without any major injuries beyond some bruising and a bloody nose. A woman also allegedly sprayed him with an unknown liquid.
A rally led by Penn State faculty and students asking for a COVID 19 vaccine mandate turned physical this afternoon at Old Main. A counter protester was present. Words and shoves were exchanged between the two sides.
(Warning: Explicit language) pic.twitter.com/Wz2pwW7l1R
— Centre County Report (@CentreCountyRep) August 27, 2021
Rachlin spoke with law enforcement the next day and said they are looking for the attackers. He plans on pressing charges once they are identified. Centre County Report posted a video of the assault in which they claimed “shoves were exchanged between the two sides”, though this summary does not appear to be accurate.
Avi Rachlin told National File that he is undeterred by the incident and plans to keep protesting any talk of a vaccine mandate for the university. Penn State faculty have been pushing hard for a vaccine mandate, with close to 300 faculty members moving their in-person classes to zoom in protest of the university’s lack of a vaccine mandate earlier in the month. “I’m going to continue this, I’m not going to bow down to the mob,” Rachlin said. Penn State students will be holding an “Unmask Penn State” rally on August 31.