Turning Point USA’s Campus Clash tour kicks off in Boulder

Meagan Stackpool

Eight months after Charlie Kirk’s “Smashing Socialism” event came to Colorado State University, the Turning Point USA founder came to the University of Colorado Boulder as part of a new campus tour. 

TPUSA founder and Executive Director Charlie Kirk and Director of Communications Candace Owens spoke at the CU Boulder campus Oct. 3 as the first stop of their Campus Clash Tour, a month and a half long tour TPUSA is putting on at college campuses nationwide. Their events focus on limited government and political culture, according to the event’s website.

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Last spring, Kirk came to CSU to deliver a speech, leading to protests which began as peaceful and then quickly escalated into violence when Antifa and white nationalists began antagonizing each other. No injuries were reported to the CSU Police Department. Kirk and Owens condemned the conflict publicly afterward and have stated that they would enjoy returning to CSU. 

Ryan Huff, chief spokesperson for the CU Boulder campus, reported that around 500 people attended the event. Huff said the police presence on campus reflected the university’s desire to preserve the first amendment.

“One of the things that’s important for us is to make sure everybody has their free speech rights tonight,” Huff said. “Regardless of anybody’s viewpoint we want to make sure everybody’s heard, and they have a chance to do that.”

Walking out onto the stage, Kirk and Owens were clad in political t-shirts stating, “Believe Facts” and “Him Too,” respectively, which both said were in support of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court.

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  • Shai Carter (left) converses with political activist Jovi Val (right) along with other protesters and counter-protesters outside the CU Event Center where Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens were invited by TPUSA to speak. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

  • Candace Owens smiles and listens as Charlie Kirk speaks on Oct 3 during their first stop on their Campus Clash tour. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • Charlie Kirk speaks to CU Boulder audience members on Oct. 3 during his first stop with Candace Owens on their Campus Clash tour.(Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • A woman applauds Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens on Oct. 3 during their first stop on their Campus Clash tour. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens speak to audience members on Oct 3. Kirk and Owens are on their first stop of their Campus Clash tour. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • An audience member during Charlie Kirk and Candace Owen’s Campus Clash at CU Boulder on Oct. 3 applauds Owens. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

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In an interview afterward with The Collegian, Owens spoke directly both to survivors of sexual violence as well as victims of false accusations of sexual violence.

“I would tell them to find their voice, and that they should be unbelievably frustrated and angered by the fact that sexual assaults have instead been politicized and that false accusations against politicians and political parties has become the norm,” Owens said.

During their speeches, Kirk and Owens addressed TPUSA’s stances on topics such as racism, sexual violence and the importance of capitalism.

Kirk said free enterprise, a central value to TPUSA, is essential to the success of the American economy. He discussed how the market uses price, profit and private property to communicate between entrepreneur and consumer, and how government intervention distorts that communication.

Owens, who also visited CSU last year, talked about the belief that a person of color cannot be a conservative. She said Americans today are the least oppressed people of all time, and that those who feel oppressed are “learning (their) own oppression.”

One of the things that’s important for us is to make sure everybody has their free speech rights tonight.Regardless of anybody’s viewpoint, we want to make sure everybody’s heard, and they have a chance to do that.” Ryan Huff, chief spokesperson for the University Colorado Boulder

In response to this, Kirk said that the left perpetuates issues of oppression to create victims to control them.

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CSU’s chapter of TPUSA was also in attendance, as were the Young Libertarians of America. Isabel Brown, president of TPUSA at CSU and former speaker of the Associated Students of Colorado State University Senate, was joined by other CSU members to support their sister chapter.

“The thing about Colorado is that we’re a really tight-knit community between all the TPUSA chapters throughout Colorado,” Brown said. “We just love coming and supporting each other’s events.”

Opposite the event arena, the Denver Socialists held a protest of TPUSA. Brett Smith, a Democratic Socialists of America member, a student veteran and student at the University of Colorado Denver, explained why they were protesting the event.

“(TPUSA) is really fighting for less voice for those who are underrepresented in the first place. They use that kind of same language to turn it on their head to say that no — conservative, white, rich kids are the ones being downtrodden,” Smith said. 

Jovi Val, a self-described political activist from Denver, explained why he believes the Campus Clash tour is so important.

“(Kirk and Owens) are not as controversial as people see them as to be, but they are painted that way because they are hitting college campuses,” Val said.

TPUSA Boulder Chapter President Ashley Mayer introduced both speakers with a short speech thanking CU for being a free speech campus and allowing them to hold their event.

After their speeches, Kirk and Owens hosted a Q&A that encouraged those who ideologically disagreed to speak up. During his closing remarks, Kirk thanked the audience for their respectful participation, especially during the Q&A.

“Thank you for coming out. Those of you that disagreed, thank you for doing so respectfully. We so appreciate it and we’re like you,” Kirk said. “I hope the Democratic party looks more like you.” 

Meagan Stackpool can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MeaganStackpool.