Conservative speaker arrested at UConn blames students

Published on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 19:45

Willimantic Chronicle

STORRS - A protest broke out into a wild melee after a controversial lecture at the University of Connecticut Tuesday evening, ending with the arrests of two people, including the alt-right speaker.

A student who allegedly damaged property during the protest was also arrested.

Lucian Wintrich, 29, was charged with breach of peace and was released on a $1,000 non-surety bond.

Wintrich is a writer for The Gateway Pundit blog, an alt-right online news organization.

He is one of the first White House correspondents to be openly gay and is one of the youngest as well.

UConn student Sean Miller, 19, of Glastonbury, was charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief and was released on a $1,000 non-surety bond, according to UConn spokesman Stephanie Reitz.

“This was a very disappointing evening,” UConn President Susan Herbst said. “Thoughtful, civil discourse should be a hallmark of democratic societies and American universities and this evening fell well short of that.”

The alt-right is a loosely defined group of far-right leaning people who have also been accused of being white supremacists, neo-Nazis and fascists.

The UConn College Republicans group hosted Wintrich for an event titled “It’s Okay to Be White,” which hoped to examine victimhood, the mainstream media and privilege.

Despite the attempt for conversation, Wintrich couldn’t get more than a few words out before members of the audience shouted over him “No discourse with Nazis,” “Black lives matter,” “Nazis go home.”

Eventually, the crowd, which contained many more counter-protesters than supporters, decided to all walk out about 30 minutes into the event. On the way, one woman approached Wintrich’s podium to take his paper speech. The incident was chronicled in Wintrich’s Twitter feed.

Wintrich ran up the stairs after her and grabbed her from behind. He was then escorted out by UConn police officers to another room in the building.

The crowd was asked to leave the building, but remained outside to know what happened to Wintrich and to continue protesting.

UConn student Annie Robbins said she was outside watching the crowd pound on the windows when Miller, reportedly, broke the window.

“Apparently someone broke a window,” student Trevis Farver said. “So they dragged the young man out that broke the window, but they’re letting (Wintrich) sit inside and be protected.”

Police later escorted Wintrich from the back of the building to a car waiting to take him away.

Miller has not been charged in relation to a smoke bomb that was thrown inside, which some students thought was tear gas as it first erupted.

No tear gas, smoke screens or smoke bombs were used or needed by UConn police, according to Reitz.

The smoke bomb remains under investigation.

“Our hope as educators is that creative leadership and intellectual energy can be an antidote to that sickness, especially on university campuses,” Herbst said.

“Between the offensive remarks by the speaker who also appeared to aggressively grab an audience member and the reckless vandalism that followed, that was certainly not the case on our campus tonight. We are better than this.”

In the past, Wintrich’s events at New York University, UC Berkeley and other college universities have been canceled or postponed because of security concerns.

“UConn does not bar speakers on the basis of content. Free speech, like academic freedom, is one of the university’s bedrock principles,” Reitz said. “That being said, a particular speaker’s or group’s presence on campus doesn’t indicate UConn’s endorsement of the presenter or their message.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 19:45. Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2017 19:48.