Ryan Walters' OSU speech interrupted by protestors


Oklahoma education official Ryan Walters ends speech amid protest after saying ‘never back down to a woke mob’



Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Apr 18, 2024

Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, spoke at Oklahoma State University (OSU) yesterday—but his remarks were interrupted by student protesters who heckled him about the death of Nex Benedict, a trans high school student who died in February.

The protesters also chided him over the mass resignation of his staff.

After trying to speak over the shouts of protestors, Walters finished his speaking engagement early, as reported by KFOR, a local Oklahoma outlet.

Walters was invited to speak at OSU by Turning Point USA, a conservative student group that has chapters in schools across the country. But it seems he was hardly able to get a word in at the event.

Videos from podcaster and Oklahoma House candidate Gabe Woolley show the rowdy scene.

“You’re a power hungry fascist,” a protestor yelled at Walters during the event. “Nex’s blood is on your hands!”

Walters’ transphobic rhetoric about trans students at Oklahoma schools was partly blamed for Benedict’s death by many. Benedict was assaulted by his peers and died shortly after. His death was ruled a suicide.

After the protestors remark about Benedict, the crowd coalesced to yell, “Where is your budget? Where is your staff?”

Last month, Walters’ chief of staff resigned alongside two other staff members.

Pamela Smith-Gordon, who was hired by Walters to be a program manager, also resigned. Last week, she told KFOR she was “disturbed” by how Walters dealt with schools across the state and teacher unions—and that he was frequently unavailable for his staff.

“He was on TV often, many times when I needed to get in touch with him he was traveling,” Smith-Gordon told KFOR. “I don’t know of any other person that can actually get paid for a job and never be there.”

Walters also hasn’t followed through with promises he made to state legislators to deliver them a budget: KFOR reported the superintendent isn’t responding to their emails.

While protestors yelled at him, Walters attempted to keep speaking and act as if he wasn’t being heckled.

“Never back down to a woke mob,” Walters said. “They think they can yell, they think they can scream, they can throw a hissy fit.”

As the yelling and shouting continued, event administrators decided to take questions from Turning Point chapter members.

But that didn’t last long: Walters exited the event only twelve minutes after boasting about not backing down to a “woke mob.” Walters shook hands and left to the sounds of protestors’ cries.

“No justice, no peace,” they yelled. “You are a coward!”

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*First Published: Apr 18, 2024, 11:03 am CDT