Riley Gaines ‘ambushed and physically hit’ after Saving Women’s Sports speech at San Francisco State

Riley Gaines was barricaded in a room on the 3rd floor of a university building for nearly three hours after the protests began

Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines was barricaded in a room at San Francisco State University Thursday night after she was physically assaulted following a speech to students about saving women’s sports at a Turning Point USA and Leadership Institute event on the campus.

Louis Barker, Riley’s husband, said he had brief conversations with her while she was barricaded in the room for nearly three hours.

“She told me she was hit multiple times by a guy in a dress. I was shaking. It made me that mad. It makes me sick to feel so helpless about it,” Barker said. “She was under police protection and was still hit by a man wearing a dress.”

On Twitter, Gaines shared footage she took showing her being rushed out of the venue by police officers amid an onslaught of verbal attacks from the detractors who surrounded her. 


Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines speaks during a rally on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, outside the NCAA Convention in San Antonio.  (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

“The prisoners are running the asylum at SFSU…I was ambushed and physically hit twice by a man,” Gaines wrote in the tweet. “This is proof that women need sex-protected spaces. Still only further assures me I’m doing something right. When they want you silent, speak louder.”

While Gaines spoke to the students, many of whom expressed opposition to her viewpoints, other footage from the event showed the swimmer’s remarks being drowned out by a group of pro-trans protesters who had become increasingly loud outside the room.

“Tonight, Riley Gaines spoke at San Francisco State University to share her personal story of competing against a biological male athlete, Lia Thomas, at the Women’s NCAA Swimming Championships last year,” Eli Bremer, Gaines’ agent, said to Fox News Digital in a lengthy statement.

“In the past year, her goal in speaking at universities has been to educate her peers about her experience and what the impact of the growing number of biological males in women’s sports will do to the integrity of Title IX. She has been questioned in civil and somewhat uncivil manners about her views many times, and she thoroughly encourages diverse viewpoints and debate on this issue.

“Instead of a thoughtful discussion tonight at SFSU, Riley was violently accosted, shouted at, physically assaulted, and barricaded in a room by protestors. It is stunning that in America in 2023, it is acceptable for biological male students to violently assault a woman for standing up for women’s rights.

“This will not stop Riley from boldly educating people of the dangers of biological males in women’s sports. She will continue to speak the truth against the radical left that no longer understands the difference between men and women.”

Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines was barricaded in a room at San Francisco State University after she says she was assaulted while speaking at a college event put on by a popular conservative organization. (Riley Gaines via Twitter, Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Footage shared to social media by Golden Gate Xpress, the school’s student-run newspaper, showed a small protest emerge ahead of Gaines’ arrival at the school Thursday evening. 

Other pieces of footage from the outlet showed the protest growing in size – eventually becoming so chaotic that Gaines was escorted out of the room and down a hallway by police and barricaded in a separate room.

While she was being moved to a safer location, protesters were captured on video chanting various phrases along the lines of “go the f–k home” and “trans women are women” while placing transgender flags on the school’s walls.

The outlet also shared images showing some members of the TPUSA staff being held up and escorted out of the venue amid the protests. Chris Trudell, the assistant dean of students, was reportedly seen trying to deescalate the situation.

The University Police Department (UPD) at San Francisco State University issued the following statement to Fox Friday morning: “We are conducting an ongoing investigation into the situation. There were no arrests related to the event. The disruption occurred after the conclusion of the event which made it necessary for UPD officers to move the event speaker from the room to a different, safe location.”

In a statement to Fox News, a TPUSA spokesperson said the counter-protest to Gaines’ speech was “organized by SFSU’s Queer and Trans Resource Center.”

The spokesperson said the rowdy protesters outside the room “rushed in when the event was over.”

Gaines, a 12-time All-American swimmer, became a national figure when she objected to trans swimmer Lia Thomas participating in women’s sports. Many athletes, such as former Olympian Nancy Hogshead-Makar, have warned that biological males have a clear advantage over biological women when they compete.

The swimmer also serves as a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), which condemned the incident via social media just hours after it took place.

“Riley was violently accosted, ambushed, and physically assaulted during a speech on sex discrimination women face in their own single-sex sports category,” said Victoria Coley, vice president for communications at Independent Women’s Forum. “Riley is courageous in speaking up for truth, science and common sense. She has experienced firsthand the injustice female athletes face across America in their own sport.”

The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the situation.

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