LINCOLN PARK — The student who led the protest against conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos at DePaul University on Tuesday has been receiving so many violent and racist threats over social media that he had to temporarily deactivate his Twitter account.
"People telling me I should burn in hell, other people calling me a monkey, saying I should never have freedom and they're going to lynch us," said Edward Ward, who shared images of the messages with DNAinfo Chicago.
But Ward said he's not letting the threats get in the way of his activism. He's since reinstated his account and has no plans of slowing down.
"There's not much I can't handle," he said. "When I stood up to fight for peoples' rights, I understood there were consequences."
He and other student protesters, many of them affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, crashed the talk of Yiannopoulos on Tuesday evening, derailing the event and sparking more protests outside of the university. The group led by Ward stormed the stage after Yiannopoulos ripped on feminists, a favorite topic of the blogger.
"I could see students with tears in their eyes and absolutely appalled by what he was saying," Ward said.
"You come into our house and you disrespect us and you expect us to be OK with it under the guise of free speech ... We won't accept that."
At issue now is what exactly happened on stage. Yiannopoulos claims Ward threatened to punch him on stage, but Ward said that's a lie. It's unclear in the video footage (watch below) if Ward made a violent threat or not.
Ward is now considering filing a defamation lawsuit against Yiannopoulos.
Yiannopoulos couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Some of the threats Ward received on Twitter.
Ward said he was disappointed by the response of DePaul University president Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, who said the protesters were wrong and apologized to the DePaul College Republicans.
"I thought it was absolutely disrespectful," Ward said of Holtschneider's response. "I thought he was absolutely out of line. I think that he is trying to uphold an image that DePaul does not have."
Ward grew up on the city's West Side, bouncing around from Austin to West Garfield Park. The 23-year-old political science major hit hard times his freshman year when him and his mother got evicted from their home with nowhere to go. They ended up staying with his mother's friend and Ward slept on the floor.
"We had to preserve spaghetti for weeks just so we could have something to eat," he said.
No matter the personal hardships, Ward said he wants to dedicate his life to fighting for other peoples' rights.
He's graduating from DePaul in a few short weeks, with plans to attend graduate school in Chicago.
"I think Chicago needs a lot of work. That's part of the reason I stayed," he said.
Watch Ward and other protesters disrupt the Yiannopoulos event here:
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