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A look back at Charlie Kirk’s 2018 speech at CSU

Conservative personality Charlie Kirk will be on campus tomorrow with Donald Trump Jr. as part of Kirk’s eight-stop “Culture War” tour.

Kirk, the founder of conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, and Trump Jr. will speak at the University Center for the Arts from 7-8:30 p.m., taking on “big government, culture and the left,” according to the Eventbrite page for the event.

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As Colorado State University prepares for Kirk and Trump Jr.’s appearance, students may recall Kirk’s last speech at CSU almost two years ago and the clashes that erupted after it.

Nearly 500 people sat in the Lory Student Center on the evening of Feb. 2, 2018, listening to Kirk talk about the dangers of socialist governments; his proposed abolition of the departments of education, energy and commerce; and other points he made in his event, titled “Smashing Socialism,” according to an article published by The Collegian.

Protesters and groups, such as the Young Democratic Socialists of America, showed up outside the Lory Student Center before and during Kirk’s speech, demonstrating and speaking against his presence on campus and the content of his speech.

As the night went on, counter-protesters began showing up, including Antifa, the Traditionalist Worker Party (reportedly) and other white nationalist parties.

Attendees still present in the LSC after the conclusion of Kirk’s speech were advised by a CSU Police Department officer that police operations were taking place on The Plaza and that they should exit westward to avoid getting involved in those operations.

Altercations began breaking out on The Plaza, after which CSUPD Chief Scott Harris issued a dispersal order. Less than 200 people were on The Plaza at the time.

Throughout the night, counter-protesters were heard yelling, “Jews will not replace us” and were seen making the “Heil Hitler” sign.

As groups began moving westward, small fights broke out, and authorities armed with riot gear and a canine unit followed the groups and tried to keep them separated, repeating the dispersal order.

Antifa and other protesters chased white nationalists off campus by the end of the night. No arrests were made during the clashes or the Kirk event, and no injuries were reported, though eyewitnesses said people were hurt on both sides during the fights.

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Then-CSU President Tony Frank sent a campus-wide email that night, saying there was a solid security plan in place that minimized injury as the night went on.

In the following days, the Islamic Center of Fort Collins hosted its Celebration of Diversity, the Democratic Socialists of America collected hygiene products for the homeless and the CSU chapter of TPUSA hosted a political discussion, all in response to Kirk’s speech and the clashes that took place.

Kirk’s current tour made its first stop at the University of Nevada, Reno Oct. 7, which more than 650 people attended, according to an article from This is Reno, which also said that scores of activists denounced Kirk. The Nevada Independent reported that protestors interrupted Kirk five times during his speech.

According to an article from the Reno Gazette-Journal, 1,007 people signed a letter addressed to UNR, demanding that the university take action over instances of white nationalism on campus.

One of the instances the letter referred to was a swastika that was recently found drawn on a stairwell of UNR’s fine arts building, and the letter listed Kirk’s visit to UNR as a “concerning” incident the university failed to address.

Kirk will speak today at Grand Canyon University, a college that drew criticism from Kirk and other conservatives in February after initially denying conservative speaker Ben Shapiro permission to speak at GCU, according to an article from the Arizona Republic.

Matt Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MattBailey760.

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