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

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

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

Kirk and Owens, both known for rhetoric that often targets various minority groups, are scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at UIC’s Dorin Forum as part of a TPUSA tour event starting at 6 p.m.

“Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens’ past use of hate speech and discriminatory language against marginalized groups indicates that these figures are looking to promote division and ‘trigger’ people rather than engage in meaningful discussion,” said a member of UIC Against Hatred who asked. to be anonymous. “The main goal of our rally is to create a space for UIC students to feel free to express their concerns regarding the TPUSA event, the university’s lack of action, and the need for more solidarity and community among students.”

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

Organizers said the counter event will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at UIC’s East Campus Quad and Latino Cultural Center with at least 100 people expected to attend.

The group will follow a non-engagement policy to keep students safe. The demonstration is to show that fascists are not welcome on campus, said organizers with UIC Against Hatred.

“It is unacceptable that this extremely diverse university allowed such hateful people to come to campus,” said Asha Edwards, a black 22-year-old senior at UIC who identifies as gender fluid and uses she/they pronouns. “I’m really concerned because (Kirk and Owens) have a very vicious anti-trans rhetoric, which is dehumanizing. In a sense, it requires, in my opinion, their genocide because they don’t want trans people to exist, or they want to force children to convert.”

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Referring to a 2021 incident when Kirk stood in front of a majority white audience in Minnesota — not far from where George Floyd was murdered — and called Floyd a “scumbag,” Edwards said she tries to be politically aware and keeps a wary eye with what is happening. promoted by the likes of Owens and Kirk.

On its website, the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism highlighted several cases pointing to “hateful speech” by individuals associated with TPUSA, including co-founder Kirk, who “promote a variety of conspiracy theories about election fraud and COVID-19 and have demonized the transgender community,” as well big statements about Muslims, Jews, immigrants and other minority groups.

On a March 6 episode of The Charlie Kirk Show, which airs on Salem Radio stations nationwide, Kirk called transgender people “sick.”

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

Candace Owens during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 25, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

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

“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 is not a problem that hurts black America,” Owens said.

“What does UIC stand for if they allow these despicable people on campus?” Edwards said.

Brian Flood, assistant director of public affairs at UIC, said in an email that the TPUSA event is not university-sponsored.

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“The university often leases available space on campus to individuals or organizations when requested, as was the case for this specific event,” Flood said. “A UIC lease does not constitute 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 students from UIC Against Hatred believe a line could have been drawn.

“We easily could not have accepted money from a white supremacist organization,” Edwards said. “It wouldn’t be a great loss for them to say, ‘No, we’re not talking about hateful, racist people’.”

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

“UIC’s mission statement explains that its goal is to be inclusive and diverse, creating a space where historically marginalized communities can have good opportunities to succeed,” the group said. “We believe that in order to achieve this mission, UIC must come to terms with individuals whose rhetoric directly harms the communities UIC intends to serve. UIC has decided to put their interest in profit in renting out the space for this event above the best interests of the students at UIC.”

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

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

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