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Turning Point USA “Culture War” brings protestors to CSU

Many concerned for safety

“Culture War” had protesters and local police on alert.
Photo: Samantha Camp · The Sentry

On Oct. 22, Charlie Kirk, the controversial founder of conservative campus group Turning Point USA, organized an event on the Colorado State University (CSU) campus featuring Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, a conservative commentator, and Benny Johnson, Turning Point’s Chief Creative Officer. The event was called “Culture War,” referring to how Kirk believes conservative students are being censored and bullied on college campuses.   

Kirk was last at CSU in February 2018, an event which, according to Colorado Public Radio, “drew both peaceful supporters and protesters before a group with riot shields and skull-face masks arrived and chanted Nazi slogans.” 

Because of this past incident protest organizers and police were on high-alert, not wanting a repeat of the last event where shield-wielding neo-Nazis brawled with protesters. Particularly because of this precedent, questions were raised by protesters as to the efficacy of CSU campus police’s tactics, which they alleged to have created a dangerous situation.   

“Every time we visit, there’s always lots of energy around this place. Let’s put it that way,” Kirk said in his opening remarks, seemingly addressing the contentious protests. Kirk also criticized the protestors outside who he said think of themselves as “rebels,” stating, “All their friends are liberal, their teachers are liberal, the music they listen to is liberal, the textbooks they read are liberal, their whole culture is liberal. They’re being conformists.” 

Kirk also criticized CSU officials, including President Joyce McConnell, for not allowing him to hold the event in a larger campus facility and for allegedly connecting Turning Point to the recent racist incidences, including a widely circulated blackface photo, on campus. 

According to Colorado Public Radio, there was a large police presence outside the event. The road separating the opposing sides remained open throughout the night, allowing both uninvolved traffic and traffic agitating both sides to pass.  

Tensions rose throughout the night as more attendees left the event and began to surround protestors. The main group behind the protest, CSU’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America, said that they were expecting a far smaller turnout, and were consequently unprepared to control the crowd.   

According to protest marshals, the three Trump supporters that were most engaged with the protesters were allegedly intoxicated and one was allegedly concealed carrying a handgun. Though carrying a firearm is generally legal on Colorado campuses, including CSU, with a permit, as per Colorado Revised Statute Section 18-12-106 possessing a firearm while intoxicated is a class 2 misdemeanor.   

Tense interactions abounded across the line, climaxing in a small fistfight between a member of the far right “fraternal organization” the Proud Boys and a protester that resulted in the Proud Boy involved being arrested.   

Protesters had trouble exiting the event. During this time one local man remarked that he was afraid to walk back to his car as he was “sure the Klan [was] out.”   

Despite the uncertainty no one is known to have been harmed and there were no reported incidences of property damage. 

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