Conservative speaker arrested at UConn after altercation
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — A conservative commentator was arrested at the University of Connecticut Tuesday night after an altercation during his speech titled “It’s OK To Be White.”
Lucian Wintrich’s speech was cut short when a young woman in the audience appeared to take paperwork off the lectern he was using and then began to leave.
Cellphone videos posted on Twitter show Wintrich running up to the woman and grabbing her before other audience members get involved.
Police quickly stepped in and led Wintrich away. He was charged with breach of peace and later released.
Wintrich took to Twitter early Wednesday to blame UConn students for being “violent and disruptive.”
“It’s really unfortunate that some of the kids at @UConn felt the need to be violent and disruptive during a speech that focused on how the leftist media is turning Americans against each other,” he wrote. “Tonight proved my point.”
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said a student was charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief for allegedly breaking a window as people were leaving the event.
Reitz said that student was not charged in connection with a smoke bomb that was thrown inside. That remained under investigation. She said police were reviewing videos “to determine if any additional charges or arrests of others are warranted.”
Wintrich is the White House correspondent for the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, which said the talk would be about “identity politics” in today’s cultural and political landscape.
UConn’s College Republicans student group sponsored Tuesday night’s event, which was repeatedly interrupted by people in the audience booing and chanting before the altercation.
“UConn does not bar speakers on the basis of content. Free speech, like academic freedom, is one of the university’s bedrock principles,” Reitz said.
UConn President Susan Herbst called it “a very disappointing evening.”
“We live in a tense and angry time of deep political division. Our hope as educators is that creative leadership and intellectual energy can be an antidote to that sickness, especially on university campuses,” Herbst said. “Between the offensive remarks by the speaker who also appeared to aggressively grab an audience member and the reckless vandalism that followed, that was certainly not the case on our campus tonight. We are better than this.”
Campus police said beforehand that they would be taking measures to ensure public safety.
The College Republicans said flyers advertising the event had been torn down or defaced across campus.
UConn’s College Democrats said they were sponsoring a discussion before the speech so activists from across the campus community could express their views.