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Former NCAA Division 1 athletes Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan were among those who were targeted by “hostile” protesters that gathered in Texas on Monday in opposition of the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was joined by Gaines and Scanlan at the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame at Texas Woman’s University in Denton for a ceremonial signing of the bill, which was previously signed into law in June.
But according to those in attendance, protesters that gathered at the event threw items and spat at those who gathered in support of the legislation.
Independent Women’s Network’s Austin chapter leader Michelle Evans told Fox News Digital after the event that she was assaulted when she left the building to observe the protest, which she estimated to be a crowd of around 250.
“It was — I guess the best word to describe them was they were rabid.
“When I turned around to go back inside of the building, that’s when somebody threw water on me,” Evans recalled. “Somebody told me they know where I f—ing live. There was somebody that got in front of me to try to physically block me from going back inside and pushed her body up against mine. Somebody hit my arm, and then someone — a woman in a pink ski mask and sunglasses — spit into my open eye.”
Evans said a suspect was apprehended. She told law enforcement that she wanted to press charges and was told by police that the suspect would be issued a ticket for a misdemeanor assault.
A public information officer with the Texas Woman’s University Police Department told Fox News Digital that one suspect was apprehended and issued a citation for misdemeanor assault. Specific details surrounding the alleged assault were not immediately known.
Evans said she was most alarmed by the treatment of the young girls that had attended the signing.
“As they were being walked out by their mothers, and there was a police officer in front and in back of them, the protesters were getting in the kids’ faces and screaming and harassing them, frightening them. It was out of control.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Gaines also shared her observations of the protest.
“Even in the great state of [Texas], protestors have tried to find a way to smear the celebration of Governor Abbott signing SB 15 which protects female collegiate athletics. But they can’t,” Gaines, host of OutKick podcast “Gaines for Girls,” told Fox News Digital in a statement.
“Today is a huge win and Gov. Abbott’s leadership is foundational and I’m hopeful more states will follow suit.”
Speaking of the protest, Gaines continued, “Bottles are being thrown, protestors are spitting in people’s faces, profanity is being yelled at children. Law enforcement has stepped in and provided protection.”
Former University of Pennsylvania swimmer, Paula Scanlan, shared on social media that protesters blocked the exits and were “spitting and yelling.”
“Craziness of today aside, I was finally able to exit the event safely,” Scanlan said on X, the company formerly known as Twitter.
“Although crowds of people may call us names, we prevailed today in the state of Texas. Our work is not finished and I hope other states will follow in the footsteps of Texas.”
Lee University volleyball player Macy Petty, who was also in attendance, said on X that the protesters were “extremely hostile” and shared some of what was allegedly shouted at them.
Videos shared with Fox News Digital showed protesters screaming, “Trans rights are human rights.” Another clip showed protesters getting in the face of young girls as they were escorted outside.
Gov. Abbott was also asked about the protests at the end of Monday’s event.
“I wish that they could have peacefully heard what Paula and Riley had to say,” he told reporters. “Any reasonable person would agree. They should not have had to have gone through what they went through. Our goal is to make sure that what they went through is not going to be repeated again.”
SB 15 follows a similar piece of legislation Abbott signed in 2021 that requires public school teams through high school in the state of Texas “to be designated by students’ sex assigned at birth.”
At least 20 states have passed similar forms of legislation. SB 15 will go into effect in Texas on Sept. 1.
Evans told Fox News Digital that SB 15 is a positive sign towards ensuring women’s right, but added that greater action is needed.
“We’re going in the right direction, we’re just going far too slowly,” she said.
“Last week the governor of Oklahoma signed an executive order to make effective a women’s Bill of Rights in that state, that’s absolutely what we need in Texas and across the United States, making it very clear what the definitions of woman and man are in language and in law to protect women’s sex-based rights and protections.”
“Sports is the tip of the iceberg, but the iceberg is much bigger than people are giving it credit for.”