Protestors at kent state(l), Kyle Rittenhouse(c), Sign that says 'no platform for a murderer'(r)

Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia Timcast News/X (CC-BY)

Kyle Rittenhouse’s choice of Kent State for Second Amendment speech infuriates students

An infamous shooting of protesters has echoes to Rittenhouse's 2020 action.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Apr 17, 2024   Updated on Apr 17, 2024, 10:45 am CDT

Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protestors and injured another during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest when he was 17, spoke at Kent State University yesterday. His presence on campus was widely protested, and the man he shot and injured, Paul Prediger, gave a speech in opposition.

In a video Rittenhouse posted on social media, he thanked protestors who are shouting “murderer” at him as he departed.

“Wonderful crowd,” he added.

In 2021, Rittenhouse was acquitted of two counts of murder, with a jury ruling he acted in self-defense. Since then, Rittenhouse has been heralded as a right-wing hero and symbol of anti-wokeness.

Rittenhouse spoke with the Kent State chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative political organization with chapters in schools across the country, about the Second Amendment. His appearance drew backlash in the month leading up to the event—and the day before, student protestors gathered to shout “Hey, ho, Rittenhouse has got to go.”

Videos posted on X show protestors demonstrating the day of Rittenhouse’s appearance.

“Murderer! Murderer!” protestors shouted outside the event. They also booed and raised their middle fingers to attendees leaving Rittenhouse’s remarks. “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

A video from TimCast shows a protestor holding a sign that said “no platform for murderers.”

Speaking to the outlet, a protestor said she didn’t value Rittenhouse’s acquittal.

“It doesn’t erase what he did,” the protestor said. “It wasn’t a fair trial, a lot of trials aren’t when it comes to white men.”

At the time of Rittenhouse’s trial, many felt that the Madison, Wisconsin judge who presided it was biased toward Rittenhouse because he allowed Rittenhouse to draw names out of a raffle drum to pick his own alternate jurors, a practice the judge told the Associated Press he allows many of his defendants to do.

Further, many protestors said Rittenhouse’s presence on campus was disrespectful of the Kent State Shootings, when the National Gaurd shot Kent State students, killing four and injuring nine, in 1970.

Said one, “Kyle visiting Kent State specifically is really just a slap in the face to all of the people who’ve been mourning May fourth and the history that happened here. It doesn’t seem like the University really cares.”

Rittenhouse addressed the protestors in his speech at Kent State.

“There are some people in the crowd who don’t like me, but that’s fine. We have the right to peacefully protest,” Fox 8 reported Rittenhouse said. “Young women, young men have the right to protect themselves, have the right to own firearms and it’s a constitutional infringement for them to say you can’t carry a gun on campus.”

Rittenhouse took a more sarcastic tone when addressing the protestors in person: In a video he posted on X, he said “thank you” to people calling him a murderer.

“You’ve been a wonderful crowd,” Rittenhouse added. “Very peaceful.”

Prediger spoke with protestors yesterday as well. He said Rittenhouse has used every minute since his trial to “gloat and to make light of taking life.”

“What I am here to do is to stand with the students of Kent State who have had enough,” Prediger said. “Enough of Kyle and his rhetoric, enough of the celebration of loss of human life, enough of the flaws logic that because a 17 year-old who shot me and killed two others … is now somehow qualified to be a champion of gun rights.”

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*First Published: Apr 17, 2024, 10:20 am CDT