Turning Point USA Tour Stop at CU Boulder Greeted with Large Crowd Inside, Peaceful Protest Outside
The appearance of high-profile conservative provocateurs and leaders of the national Turning Point USA organization on the University of Colorado campus Wednesday remained peaceful.
CU was the first on an 11-stop tour by Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens that they dubbed the Campus Clash tour. Turning Point has chapters at high schools and colleges across the country, including a chapter at CU, and has a stated goal of identifying, educating, training and organizing students “to promote the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government.”
When Kirk spoke at Colorado State University’s campus in February, protests prior to and during his speech were peaceful, but protests afterward turned violent when a group wearing skull masks and shouting Nazi slogans stormed the crowd, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Some protesters objected to the fact that they were separated from the CU Event Center by a line of buses parked end-to-end, because they felt the barrier impeded on their right to protest freely.
There were no arrest or citations in connection with the Wednesday appearance at CU, spokesman Ryan Huff said.
“This event is another example of how much we value free expression on our campus,” Huff said in a written statement. “As we have done many times before, several CU Boulder departments worked together with student organization leaders on the planning to ensure everyone could express their free speech rights in a safe manner.”
Kirk and Owens entered and exited to standing ovations from a crowd of about 400 people, including students and community members from the surrounding area. They addressed a range of issues, including the ongoing controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by multiple women, including Boulder’s Deborah Ramirez, of sexual misconduct and assault.
“I’ve spoken out against the #MeToo movement,” Owens said, sporting a shirt that read ”#HimToo.” She said the movement — which has inspired people across the country to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment — have stripped the accused of due process. ”... I saw this coming from a mile away.”
She later added: “These are our fathers. These are our sons. These are our husbands.”
Both she and Kirk said they do not believe Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Thursday, and that they’d like to see Kavanaugh confirmed.
They also spoke in support of capitalism, deregulation, decreased taxes and President Donald Trump — and derided socialism and “identity politics” by liberals.
“The left loves a weak society because they can control that society,” Kirk said.
He and Owens said liberals teach others, including through college campuses, that they are oppressed, but they use that as a means of controlling of them.
Meanwhile, dozens of protesters gathered before and during the speech outside the CU Event Center, and they described Kirk and Owens as racist, sexist and rape-apologists.
The protesters spoke in support Ford and Ramirez and all survivors of sexual violence, and they carried signs and chanted, including, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Turning Point has got to go,” and “Say it once, say it again, no excuse for violent men.”
In a play on Turning Point’s acronym, TPUSA, they also collected toiletries, including toilet paper and tampons, to donate to people in the area experiencing homelessness.
Quin Gardner, a CU Boulder student, joined the protesters and carried signs that read “Kava-Nope” and “Abortion Rights Are Human Rights.”
“I also came out on behalf of sexual assault survivors,” Gardner said. “By letting Kavanaugh get this far, what the country is saying to them is that we don’t believe them or hear them. I want to make sure they know that we’re out here. We hear them. We believe them. We support them.”
Richard Folsom, another CU student, added: ”“We want the other side to know they are the minority here in their hateful beliefs.”
Ashley Mayer, the president of CU’s Turning Point chapter, said in an interview before the event that she hoped even those who disagreed would learn from the event.
“I hope that everyone in the audience can take away a better understanding about what’s going on in politics today — obviously it’s going to be from a conservative perspective — and people who disagree to come in and realize we’re not horrible people and we don’t think that they’re horrible people,” she said. “It’s just we both disagree on something, and that’s OK.”
She said Turning Point officials selected the Boulder campus as a stop on the tour and footed the bill for their expenses, and the local chapter recruited volunteers and helped to reserve the space for the appearance.
CU officials did not yet have an estimate as to how much security and other efforts for the event cost. Police officers from CU and the city of Boulder, as well as deputies from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, were on hand, and attendees entered through airport-style security. The protesters, who remained peaceful, had dispersed by the time the event concluded.
Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, email@example.com