'MURDERER': Kent State students protest upcoming Kyle Rittenhouse speech

A petition has since been launched to end the event, characterizing Rittenhouse as 'a controversial figure who shot three men, two fatally, during civil protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020.'

Kent State Turning Point USA leadership stands by its decision to host Rittenhouse, rejecting such accusations and asserting that his speech should encourage conservatives to speak out.

Some students at Kent State University in Ohio are speaking out against Turning Point USA (TPUSA) for arranging Kyle Rittenhouse to talk on campus, reasoning that the presence of a “murderer” may “potentially incite more violence”.

Images obtained by Campus Reform show students dispersing flyers that read, “Kent State is allowing this MURDERER on our campus. Is this a safe choice for your kids?”

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Kyle Rittenhouse garnered immense backlash following his acquittal after defending himself against rioters as a 17-year-old in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. 

Since his trial, he has advocated for gun rights and the Second Amendment, often referencing the misinformation surrounding his story.

In response to Rittenhouse’s planned appearance, a Kent State student started a petition in opposition to the event, which has received over 3,000 signatures.

TPUSA is scheduled to host Rittenhouse at the school’s Kiva Auditorium to “encourage conservatives at Kent to speak out more,” chapter President Brady Seymour told Campus Reform.

“[N]o matter what side you’re on, if you’re trying to make a difference in the world there will always be people that hate you for it,” Seymour said.

Seymour also clarified to Campus Reform that the Rittenhouse event is still set to take place despite immense backlash from the Kent State student body, and the TPUSA chapter’s executive board does not believe students will be successful in shutting down the event.

Kent State’s TPUSA Instagram post promoting the event has received over 830 comments, with many condemning Rittenhouse’s speech. One account called the existence of Turning Point at Kent State “genuinely detrimental to the student body.”

Another user commented, “Anyone who gets tickets needs to be put on a watchlist immediately”, with another stating, “Your hateful organization and hateful rhetoric deserves no place on this campus or in the world period.”

In response to the situation, the university reportedly put out a statement saying, “we permit groups and individuals to speak and share their views on our campus about topics they feel are important.” 

While stressing its support for “freedom of expression,” the school noted that, “As with any speaker invited to our campus, the university does not endorse or condone an opinion or point of view represented by the speaker, nor does the university advocate for any topic the speaker might discuss during their visit to campus.”

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“[T]he campus reaction to our event has shown me the impact of misinformation and ignorance of political topics through not only college students, but society as a whole,” Kent State TPUSA Vice President Sophia Harper told Campus Reform. “Even with so much opposition, student and university backlash will not hinder or delay our event whatsoever, let alone the functionality of our chapter.” 

Campus Reform has contacted Kent State University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.