Kent State Experiences Day of Activism

The Kent Campus remained peaceful during speeches and protests

Kent State University students exercised their freedom of speech rights on Tuesday, April 16, with opposing speakers appearing on campus the same day.

The student chapter of the organization, Turning Point USA, sponsored a speech by Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two Black Lives Matter protesters and wounded a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. At his 2021 trial, Rittenhouse claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges.

Rittenhouse spoke at the Kent Student Center Kiva at 6 p.m.

People line up outside the Kent Student Center Kiva to hear Kyle Rittenhouse speak.

A group of Kent State student organizations joined together to oppose Rittenhouse’s appearance, including the Spanish and Latine Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, Black United Students, Ignite and United Students Against Sweatshops, and the statewide organization, Ohio Students Association.

The groups sponsored a news conference in Oscar Ritchie Hall that included an appearance by Paul Prediger, the survivor of the Rittenhouse shooting, appeared. Prediger legally changed his name from Gaige Grosskreutz, following the 2021 trial. A teach-in followed at Oscar Ritchie Hall.    

Media on the Kent State campus attend a news conference called by student groups to oppose a talk by Kyle Rittenhouse.

The university issued this statement regarding the day’s events:

“At Kent State University, we are driven by our core values, which include kindness and respect and freedom of speech. We cannot ban speech because it would go against a core value and because of well-established laws governing free speech on public university campuses.

“Upholding the First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly for all, the university has a long history of allowing peaceful dialogue from all points of view, including those whom some may feel are offering different and/or sometimes controversial opinions. Consistent with our core values, we encourage open dialogue and respectful civil discourse in an inclusive environment.  

“The safety of our community is the priority of Kent State’s Department of Public Safety, Police Services. Police Services is aware, monitors and assesses the safety of our community during campus events and responds accordingly.”

POSTED: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 06:47 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 09:59 PM
Lisa Abraham
Robert Christy and Rami Daud