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Conservative speaker arrested at UConn blames students
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — A conservative commentator who was arrested at the University of Connecticut and charged with breach of peace following an altercation blamed some UConn students for being “violent and disruptive.”
Lucian Wintrich’s Tuesday night speech titled “It’s OK To Be White” was repeatedly interrupted by people in the audience booing and chanting before coming to an abrupt end when a woman appeared to take paperwork off the lectern he was using and then began to leave.
Cellphone videos posted on Twitter show Wintrich, 29, running after the woman and grabbing her before other audience members get involved.
Police quickly stepped in and led Wintrich away.
“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,” Wintrich wrote on Twitter early Wednesday after he was released from police custody. “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 at one point. That remained under investigation. She also said police were reviewing videos to determine if any other charges or arrests were 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.
“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.