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UIC students plan to protest far-right speakers Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens at event Thursday – Chicago Tribune


Students at the University of Illinois at Chicago plan to protest Thursday against the college’s Turning Point USA event featuring far-right speakers Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens.

Kirk and Owens, both known for their rhetoric often targeting various minority groups, are scheduled to speak Thursday at 7:00 PM at UIC’s Dorin Forum as part of TPUSA’s tour, which begins at 6:00 PM.

“Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens’ past use of hate speech and discriminatory language against marginalized groups shows that these individuals seek to further divide and ‘trigger’ people rather than engage in meaningful discussion,” said a member of UIC Against Hatred. who asked to remain anonymous. “The main purpose of our rally is to create a space for UIC students to freely express their concerns about the TPUSA event, the university’s inaction, and the need for greater solidarity and community among students.”

UIC Against Hatred is a collective of individual student groups that came together in February after learning of Kirk and Owens’ appearance. He hopes to repeat the success of 2016, when Donald Trump canceled a planned rally at UIC after crowds of students began protesting, the spokesman said.

Organizers said a counter event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the UIC East Campus and Latino Cultural Center, with at least 100 people expected to attend.

The group will follow a no-interaction policy to ensure student safety. The demonstration is to show that fascists are not welcome on campus, said organizers with UIC Against Hatred.

“It’s unacceptable that this extremely diverse university has allowed such hateful people to come onto campus,” said Asha Edwards, a black, 22-year-old senior at UIC who identifies as gender-fluid and uses she/them pronouns. “I’m really concerned because (Kirk and Owens) have very vicious anti-transportation rhetoric that is dehumanizing. In a way, I think it’s calling them to genocide because they don’t want trans people to exist, or they want to force children to de-transition.”

Referring to the case of 2021 when Kirk stood in front of an all-white audience in Minnesota — not far from where George Floyd was killed — and called Floyd “scum,” Edwards said she tries to be politically savvy and pays close attention to what people like Owens and Kirk are promoting .

On your websiteThe Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism highlighted several cases that point to “hate speech” by people associated with TPUSA, including co-founder Kirk, who “promotes numerous conspiracy theories about election fraud and COVID-19 and has demonized the transgender community,” and also bigoted remarks about Muslims, Jews, immigrants and other minority groups.

On the March 6 episode of The Charlie Kirk Show, which airs on Salem radio stations across the country, Kirk called transgender people “sick.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Kirk helped rally hundreds of Trump supporters to a rally in Washington that led to the uprising in the capital on January 6, 2021.

Owens, the former TPUSA communications director, denied that white supremacy is harmful in testimony before a 2019 hearing of the US House Joint Subcommittee on Oversight.

“Based on the hierarchy of what affects minority Americans, if I had to make a list of 100 things, white nationalism would not be on the list. White supremacy and white nationalism are not an issue that hurts Black America,” Owens said.

“What does UIC mean by allowing these vile people on campus?” Edwards said.

Brian Flood, UIC’s associate director of public affairs, said in an email that the TPUSA event is not sponsored by the university.

“The university often leases available space on campus to individuals or organizations when requested, as was the case for this particular event,” Flood said. “The UIC Lease Agreement is not an endorsement, sponsorship or endorsement of any particular speaker or organization on campus.”

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TPUSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Edwards and the students at UIC Against Hatred believe the line could have been drawn.

“We could have easily not accepted money from a white supremacist organization,” Edwards said. “It wouldn’t be a big loss for them to say, ‘No, we don’t support hateful racists.’

UIC Against Hatred noted that UIC is classified as a minority-serving institution.

“UIC’s mission statement explains that its goals are to be inclusive and diverse, creating a space where historically marginalized communities can have ample opportunity to succeed,” the group said. “We believe that in order to achieve this mission, UIC must take a stand against individuals whose rhetoric directly harms the communities UIC purports to serve. UIC has decided to put its interest in profiting from the rental of space for this event ahead of the interests of UIC students.”

Although UIC has a TPUSA chapter that has recently become more active, judging by the organization’s social media presence, “they’re not really that popular,” Edwards said.

“They’re not as big on campus and they don’t have a lot of influence compared to the progressive groups at school … which is good,” Edwards said.


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