Multiple counter-protestors spoke against Turning Point USA’s rhetoric during Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens’ visit to the University of Connecticut last night.
UConn Youth for Socialist Action (YSA) organized an event that featured speeches from people representing the Campus Anti-Fascist Network, the Bangladeshi Students Association and the Quiet Corner Democratic Socialists of America, among others.
“This, right here, is actually UConn,” Chris Vials, assistant English professor and director of American Studies, said to the crowd. “It’s a coalition of wide-ranging groups. That, across the street [at the Turning Point USA event], does not represent who we are as a university and state.”
The event included a reading of a statement signed by YSA, as well as the UConn Muslim Students Association, UConn Bangladeshi Students Association, UConn Young Democratic Socialists and more.
“We are united in our opposition to the program of elitism, white supremacy and misogyny represented by Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens and the UConn TPUSA chapter’s decision to invite them,” the statement read. “As Muslims, Jews, undocumented students, members of the LGBTQ+ community, working people and students of color, we stand resolutely opposed to the ideas and principles espoused by Kirk and Owens.”
UConn Revolution Against Rape and the UConn Queer Asians and Allies added addendums to the statement, noting their stance against Turning Point USA and their support for groups that they feel are threatened by the organization.
“Revolution Against Rape does not tolerate any organizations or speakers that bring white supremacy, bigotry and hate speech to our campus,” the RAR addendum read. “We must work to dismantle these systems and and uplift the voices of those that organizations like Turning Point USA try to silence.”
“The student group Queer Asians and Allies, based at the University of Connecticut, would like to join … in condemning Turning Point USA,” the Queer Asians and Allies addendum read. “We believe that the racist, antisemitic, islamophobic and generally hurtful messages have no place at a university which serves to promote respect and inclusion to people and cultures that have traditionally been excluded from the popular narrative. By standing in solidarity with other student groups, we hope to make clear that we find these speakers and this group despicable.”
Near the YSA demonstration, UConn students and community members protested Kirk and Owens’ appearance on the Student Union mall.
One man, who wore a scarf on his face and said he wished to remain anonymous for fear of being doxxed, said he came to protest Turning Point USA and the incitement of racist violence in America.
“Turning Point USA has blood on their hands. They incited the Christchurch massacre,” the man said, noting that the perpetrator in New Zealand had mentioned Owens in his manifesto. “They’re a bad organization, they’re racist, they’re fascist-leaning and alt-right, so I am against that in all forms.”
Community members wishing to attend the event reserved tickets through an Eventbrite page, but did not reserve them through UConn and as such were denied entry.
In response to their complaints, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said the university and the student chapter of Turning Point USA agreed that entry passes to last night’s event could only be obtained by inclusion on a list of VIPs provided by the TPUSA chapter or by presenting a UConn ID at the Student Union.
“None of the people who obtained entry passes this way were denied entry,” Reitz said.
Reitz said it appears that Turning Point USA also separately sought to distribute tickets via an Eventbrite page, despite being told UConn would only honor entry passes obtained through the campus chapter’s VIP list or at the Student Union.
“The university never agreed to have entry passes distributed any other way because multiple competing ticketing processes would cause confusion,” Reitz said. “And the event was intended only for members of the UConn community and the student group’s invited VIP guests.”
This policy was made clear throughout the planning process, which included student representatives from Turning Point USA, Reitz said.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.