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Protesters interrupt Kyle Rittenhouse’s Turning Point USA speaking appearance

Protesters interrupt Kyle Rittenhouse’s Turning Point USA speaking appearance

Protestors disrupted an event Wednesday featuring Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of homicide in 2021 after shooting and killing two people during a racial justice protest.

The event, titled “The Rittenhouse Recap,” was held by conservative group Turning Point USA at the University of Memphis, where Rittenhouse was slated to speak about “the importance of the Second Amendment and the lies of BLM [Black Lives Matter],” per the event’s website.

Video posted to social media of the event showed Rittenhouse standing on stage when a group of students asked him about past statements made by Turning Point USA’s founder, Charlie Kirk.

“Charlie Kirk has said a lot of racist things,” one student in the audience said while addressing Rittenhouse, who responded, “What racist things has Charlie Kirk said? We’re going to have a little bit of dialogue of what racist things that Charlie Kirk said,” Rittenhouse continued.

The student then listed off a series of allegations of racist comments about Charlie Kirk to which Rittenhouse said he does not “know anything about that.”

Pressed again by the student, Rittenhouse said, “I’m not going to comment on that,” and left the stage amid boos from the crowd.

Protests also occurred outside the event space, and videos posted online showed dozens of demonstrators holding posters and shouting phrases like “No justice, no peace.”

Rittenhouse was acquitted in November 2021 after a jury unanimously found him not guilty of charges including intentional homicide and endangering safety.

His attorneys argued he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 in Kenosha, Wis., during a racial justice protest in 2020. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, also injured a third protester.

His acquittal prompted protests across the U.S. at the time, while pro-gun advocates celebrated the decision.

Following the event, Rittenhouse said he knew he was “likely going to get booed off the stage.”

“So my plan for that was if they don’t let me give a speech, I’m going to roll into Q&A and that’s what I did, and we stopped the Q&A at a designated time and got out of there because we could just tell that the crowd was starting to get more and more hostile the more and more I shared my story,” he said Thursday. “So, we just went ahead … and got out.”

Rittenhouse said he “highly doubts” those involved in the protests will “be held accountable for harassing and intimidating and chasing other students” by the university.

In a statement shortly before the event, Turning Point USA accused the University of Memphis of trying to “undermine the event.” The organization claimed the university “seized control” of the seating arrangement and ticketing system on the day of the event.

“Most shockingly, we have gathered credible information that school administrators have leaked the new ticketing information to protester groups so they can reserve larger numbers of newly issued tickets and sabotage the event,” Turning Point USA spokesperson Andrew Kolvet wrote in a statement.

Some media reports suggested Rittenhouse left the Q&A session early due to protesters, though Kulvet noted he spoke for his original allotted time.

“The insinuations that Kyle stormed off the stage are ridiculous. He warned that it was his last question, he received a question that was not in good faith about somebody other than himself and so he declined to comment,” Kolvet told The Hill. “And then he ended the Q&A portion and left and spent two hours with our Turning Point USA students.”

The University of Memphis did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

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