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Conservative Provocateurs Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens to Speak at CU Boulder in October

September 12, 2018

The University of Colorado is hosting two leaders of the conservative student organization Turning Point USA including Charlie Kirk, whose appearance in Fort Collins earlier this year sparked a violent protest in October.

Two leaders of the conservative student organization Turning Point USA - including Charlie Kirk, whose appearance in Fort Collins earlier this year sparked a violent protest - are scheduled to speak on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus in October.

According to a post by the university’s newsletter CU Boulder Today , Kirk and Candace Owens, both young, pro-Trump speakers, plan to discuss limited government and political culture on Oct. 3 to kick off their Campus Clash tour this fall.

“Whether people agree or disagree with them, Charlie and Candace’s message has resonated with others and has provoked people to dig deeper into why they believe what they believe,” said Ashley Mayer, president of CU Boulder’s Turning Point USA organization. “Their intellect and message have inspired thousands of young conservatives to become passionate activists.”

When Kirk came to speak at Colorado State University in February, protests turned violent, according to the Coloradoan . A group wielding riot shields, large flashlights and face masks with skulls on them stormed the area while chanting Nazi slogans as Kirk was wrapping up, according to the newspaper. Protests before and during the speech were orderly, university officials said.

CSU’s police chief issued a dispersal order due to a risk of an imminent threat of potential violence, citing protesters armed with bats, shields and gas masks.

Kirk and Owens are known for being provocateurs, with Owens recently causing a stir at a Turning Point USA-hosted summit for young women. Owens demeaned the #MeToo movement that supports women who have faced sexual assault and harassment, saying the premise made women look “stupid, weak and inconsequential.”

The entire premise of #metoo is that women are stupid, weak & inconsequential. Too stupid to know what men might want if you come to their hotel room late at night. Too weak to turn around and tell someone not to touch your ass again. Too inconsequential to realize this.

— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 11, 2018

The vice president of right-leaning organization Young America’s Foundation wrote a memo suggesting conservative students should avoid Turning Point USA, calling the group “a parasite,” according to the Washington Post.

Turning Point USA is no stranger to bringing controversial speakers to Colorado.

In March, the CU Boulder chapter of Turning Point USA hosted conservative pundit Ann Coulter , who spent her time attacking immigrants and Muslims.

Turning Point USA also brought conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulous to CU’s Boulder campus in 2017. Yiannopoulos, who targeted feminists and liberals during his speech, has since been permanently banned from Twitter after the social media platform took action against racist abuse targeting actress Leslie Jones.

While other universities such as the University of California Berkeley have canceled controversial speakers as protests mounted, CU Boulder has taken a pointed stand to allow for freedom of speech on its campuses. University officials couldn’t think of a speaker who had been canceled over impending controversy, and the university has had security present for such events.

Turning Point USA requested and received $2,000 worth of student fees for security, parking and audio and visual equipment for Yiannopoulos’ visit last year.

For the appearance by Kirk and Owens, CU said attendees should expect “airport-like screenings.” Bags, backpacks or purses of any kind will be forbidden from entry.

Students protested Yiannopoulous when he came to the Boulder campus and walked out during Coulter’s speech, but the speakers were still welcomed onto campus.

“We want our campus to be a place of learning and debate and enlightenment, and that includes debate in the classroom and speakers who could be controversial and have ideas that may or may not align with our students’ beliefs,” Ryan Huff, spokesman for the Boulder campus, told the Daily Camera in January. “I think the policies we have in place are working for us, but we’re certainly open to further guidance from our board of regents.”

The University of Colorado Board of Regents is set to vote Friday on policies defining academic freedom and freedom of expression, according according to the Daily Camera.

The university’s Republican regents, including Heidi Ganahl, have pushed for stronger free speech policies on the university’s campus, noting that conservative and libertarian students don’t feel comfortable on Boulder’s left-leaning campus.

The location and time of Kirk and Owen’s visit to the university haven’t been announced as of Wednesday morning. Tickets to the event are free and available through the Turning Point USA website. Entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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