Contentious speaker met with peaceful protests near Illini Union

Contentious speaker met with peaceful protests near Illini Union

URBANA — Controversial conservative speaker Charlie Kirk's appearance Thursday night on campus was pretty much a political version of the battle of the bands.

Before the Turning Point USA founder began his 40-minute talk inside the Illini Union, a mostly-student crowd of 67 marched across the Quad in that direction, many of them chanting slogans like "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Charlie Kirk has got to go."

Several onlookers grabbed their cellphones to snap selfies in front of the protesters.

"He promotes racist policies," said Elizabeth Dean of the International Socialist Organization. "He wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico. He promotes the 'professor watch list,' which asks students to give information about professors they think are left wing. I think his views are harmful to students on campus."

Inside the Union, close to 200 people packed Illini Room B to hear Kirk, a member of President Donald Trump's transition team, extol the virtues of capitalism, fiscal responsibility and limited government.

Attendees launched their own chant: "USA! USA! USA!"

One woman squealed when Kirk suggested the U.S. move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"College students are so used to hearing one side of the political agenda," said Debbie Bernal, president of the UI chapter of Turning Point USA. "It is important to know there are other beliefs out there that young people are open to, as well."

UI police were stationed both inside and outside the union, but no violence was reported.

Most of the conflict was of the verbal variety as each side promoted its views, separated by a hallway.

Outside, Nilly Kumar of Urbana carried a sign reading "Open mic for anyone who hates fascism."

"Charlie Kirk is openly against the immigrant community and the undocumented community," Kumar said. "He supports ideas that should have stayed in the racist 20th century. They don't belong in this time period."

Inside, Kirk's talk was interrupted only by loud applause from supporters, many of whom sported buttons reading "I love capitalism" and "Socialism sucks."

"Whether you agree or disagree, it is so important to fight for free speech on campuses today," Kirk told the crowd.

Among his remarks: a call for colleges to move from four-year to three-year degrees.

"College should not be about life exploration," he said. "It should be about career preparation."

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Bystander wrote on October 06, 2017 at 8:10 am
Profile Picture

The only way we are going to stop these protesters is with arrests. They should have been rounded up for criminal trespassing. 

ialdabaoth wrote on October 06, 2017 at 10:10 am

Why would we even want to violate their constitutional right to assembly and expression? No violence, no crime; nothing they did was illegal. Nevermind the inanity of suggesting students be arrested for trespassing on the public grounds of their own university.

CallSaul wrote on October 06, 2017 at 10:10 am

Look at this delicate little RWNJ snowflake who needs a safe space where he won't have to hear opposing views...

See how sad and pathetic he is...

A soft little flower who melts into a puddle of quivering goo if someone dares to disagree with him...

A little man child who can't withstand even the thought that there are people who don't share his troglodytic reactionary backwark prejudices and bigotries...

How pathetic and weak...

And of course he demands that the power of the state be used to incarcerate people whose opinions he disapproves of.

Like a good authoritarian, he believes disagreeing with him should be an arrestable offense...

Is there any doubt what this type of loyal Trump lickspittle would be doing if we were in 1930s Germany...?

Bystander wrote on October 06, 2017 at 10:10 am
Profile Picture

Keep it up Sollie, you'll be banned for personal attacks in no time. 

CallSaul wrote on October 06, 2017 at 10:10 am

Just as you call for the arrest of people who dare to disagree with you, you demand the NG ban people who dare to disagree with you... expected...

Ddobbs wrote on October 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Wow! You are the snowflake libturd that God warned us about. Your socialist views work well in Venezuela. Perhaps you should move there so you can enjoy that sense of belonging. Oh wait, you are in Illinois, a state loaded with libturd pukes who are drowning In debt after decades of dumbass democrats using other people's money to support your lazy ass constituents.

CallSaul wrote on October 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Typical idiot RWNJ. 

Now go away and play dress up at the next nazi torchlit parade...

CallSaul wrote on October 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

I'm sure all the rightwing self appointed comment cops on here who screech about civility are going to reprimand your insults, abuse and profanity...


That never happens when it's a fellow RWNJ spewing garbage and it won't be happening this time either...

It only happens when someone to their left expresses an opinion they don't like.

I don't think 'bystander' will be calling for you to be banned...

It's almost like he and the other scolds are cynical hypocrites who just hope --- in vain, of course --- to silence people expressing opinions they disapprove of.

Who could have ever guessed such a thing...?

JohnRalphio wrote on October 06, 2017 at 8:10 am

Ignoring any inane remarks about the protestors, I find this guy's call for three-year college degrees pretty telling. Is he unfamiliar with trade schools? Or community colleges? Or union training programs? It seems pretty clear that Turning Point exists solely to cast university culture in as bad a light as possible.

rsp wrote on October 06, 2017 at 10:10 am

It seems like more and more some groups have an agenda and throw "issues" around it to try and dress it up. What's the whole point of all these lists of people? To identify the "other". Why the focus on dividing the country?

Among his remarks: a call for colleges to move from four-year to three-year degrees.

"College should not be about life exploration," he said.

Life exploration. At what point does he think you are allowed to do that? Has he never looked at a catalog? They are filled with classes for returning students who want to explore.

Does he know anything about college?

Debra1221 wrote on October 06, 2017 at 11:10 am

It doesn't sound like the SPEAKER was contentious at all.  It sounds like the people PROTESTING the speaker were contentious. 

BruckJr wrote on October 06, 2017 at 5:10 pm

He is Republican.  Makes him contentious, if not downright radical, in the eyes of the News Gazette.

wayward wrote on October 06, 2017 at 12:10 pm

And then there's the "silent majority" who had better things to do than show up at any event related to Charlie Kirk.

rsp wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm

I'd never heard of him. I really think it's silly that it's getting press attention that someone stood there to "protect the signs" like OMG it's never happened that they get covered up or torn before. Has she never been outside before? Since the first time someone put up a sign there someone else has put up one over it or torn it either intentionally or accidently. But she's newsworthy why?

wayward wrote on October 06, 2017 at 3:10 pm
rsp wrote on October 06, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Inside the Union, close to 200 people packed Illini Room B to hear Kirk

A room that holds 300 people. Not sure "packed" would be the correct word.

illinijd wrote on October 08, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Profile Picture




CallSaul wrote on October 08, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Just how exactly does other people criticizing fascism --- criticism that apparently really really bothers you --- in any way equate to trying to shut down speech they disagree with...?

Just like the other RWNJs locally and globablly, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that speech criticizing fascism or other views you hold is somehow the same as shutting your speech down.

While that astoundingly stupid argument might find acceptance at Brietbard and Fox, no one not already in the extreme rightwing reactionary bubble is deluded or dumb enough to fall for it...

Tom Napier wrote on October 09, 2017 at 11:10 am

The headline of this article suggests it's surprising a protest did not degenerate into a riot.

So, this is what extremism brings us -- the expectation that disagreement automatically brings confrontation if not actual violence and bodily harm. Unfortunately, there are all too many examples of this being the case, which then leads us to assume violent protests are the rule rather than the exception.

Both the expectation of violence and the actual violence should disgust us all.

All would benefit from reading Bret Stephens column in the September 24 New York Times, "The Dying art of Disagreement" ( In it, Stephens describes how the intellectual exchange of opposing ideas has all but disappeared from American society. Each side of an argument would present their case, address the others' concerns, and attempt to alter their position through reason, not volume or offensiveness. But not anymore. The "hey-hey, ho-ho ..." crowd and the "right wing nut jobs" have each carefully cultivated the dogma that inflammatory rhetoric and insults are more effective in changing opinion than an reasoned and civil debate. I couldn't invent a more dysfunctional scenario if I tried.

I strongly suspect that the extremists on both sides (I know of one in particular) will refuse to acknowledge this article may be useful to us all, much actually read it. So, I'll extract a couple of passages for your reading enjoyment:

"It’s usually the case that the more we do something, the better we are at it. Instead, we’re like Casanovas in reverse: the more we do it, the worse we’re at it. Our disagreements may frequently hoarsen our voices, but they rarely sharpen our thinking, much less change our minds. It behooves us to wonder why."

"Most importantly, they (disagreements) are never based on a misunderstanding. On the contrary, the disagreements arise from perfect comprehension; from having chewed over the ideas of your intellectual opponent so thoroughly that you can properly spit them out. In other words, to disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say."

" For free societies to function, the idea of open-mindedness can’t simply be a catchphrase or a dogma. It needs to be a personal habit, most of all when it comes to preserving an open mind toward those with whom we disagree."

"There’s no one answer. What’s clear is that the mis-education begins early. I was raised on the old-fashioned view that sticks and stones could break my bones but words would never hurt me. But today there’s a belief that since words can cause stress, and stress can have physiological effects, stressful words are tantamount to a form of violence. This is the age of protected feelings purchased at the cost of permanent infantilization."

"The mis-education continues in grade school. As the Brookings findings indicate, younger Americans seem to have no grasp of what our First Amendment says, much less of the kind of speech it protects. This is a testimony to the collapse of civics education in the United States, creating the conditions that make young people uniquely susceptible to demagogy of the left- or right-wing varieties."

"In recent years, identity politics have become the moated castles from which we safeguard our feelings from hurt and our opinions from challenge. It is our “safe space.” But it is a safe space of a uniquely pernicious kind — a safe space from thought, rather than a safe space for thought, to borrow a line I recently heard from Salman Rushdie."

Please pay attention to this one:

"Another consequence of identity politics is that it has made the distance between making an argument and causing offense terrifyingly short. Any argument that can be cast as insensitive or offensive to a given group of people isn’t treated as being merely wrong. Instead it is seen as immoral, and therefore unworthy of discussion or rebuttal. The result is that the disagreements we need to have — and to have vigorously — are banished from the public square before they’re settled. People who might otherwise join a conversation to see where it might lead them choose instead to shrink from it, lest they say the “wrong” thing and be accused of some kind of political -ism or -phobia. For fear of causing offense, they forego the opportunity to be persuaded."

And finally,

"The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak — is absent."

I trust you get the idea by now.

CallSaul wrote on October 09, 2017 at 2:10 pm

The only people surprised that the protests against the RWNJ were peaceful are you and the other RWNJs.

It's fitting you'd cite a rightwing extremist who denies climate change…

Your phony calls for civility are, very transparently, nothing more than another in the unending series of clumsy attempts to normalize rightwing extremism and racism.

When you claim that the Aunt Jemima stereotype isn't the least bit racist but is in fact respectful and honorable, the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider your racist claim…

When a fellow RWNJ calls for protestors to be jailed for daring to express opinions he disapproves of, the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider his authoritarian police state fanfic…

When another fellow RWNJ claims that daring to criticize fascism somehow shuts down the speech of the poor beleaguered fascists, the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider his delusional claptrap…

When the head science denier calls climate change a 'Chinese hoax,' the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider his anti science lies…

When the head nazi lover says there were many 'very fine people' marching with torches and shouting "Jews will not replace us!' and 'Blood and Soil!' the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider their --- and his --- racist and anti semitic hatred…

When the head neo confederate blames 'both sides' after a RWNJ terrorist murders a peaceful protestor, the proper response from the rest of us is not to shut up and respectfully consider his racist defense of rightwing terrorists…

There are of course endless further examples I could cite.

Reasoned and rational discourse is only possible when both sides agree to be reasoned and rational. Demanding that one side be respectful when the other goes miles out of its way to take every opportunity to be disrespectful is not a call for even handedness.

It's a call to normalize racism and rightwing extremism.

The right in this country long ago abandoned reasoned and rational discourse in favor of reactionary extremism and naked appeals to racism and bigotry.

You'll not be surprised to learn that those of us who oppose rightwing extremism, racism and other bigotry are not going to heed your call for us to shut up and respectfully consider the racism, bigotry and extremism you and your allies peddle endlessly…

Tom Napier wrote on October 10, 2017 at 10:10 am

By failing to address in your reply any of the issues either I or Mr. Stephens raise, you validate his opinion in a thoroughly convincing fashion.

You exhibit ignorance instead of comprehension, myopia instead of open-mindedness, vitriol instead of reason, and hate and distain instead of respect. You condemn Mr. Stevens by what he is (at least in your own mind) instead of what he says. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you've actually read his column although I see no evidence of it in your reply.

To clarify, I do not read the New York Times. What I know of its content I hear or see as references from other sources. I am unfamiliar with Mr. Stephens' opinions and writings. I have no knowledge of his political leanings. Given his education and profession (described in his column, which you've read no doubt), I suspect he's more liberal than conservative. As you would demand of me, please cite a source of Mr. Stephens' denial of climate change.

"The Dying Art of Disagreement" is the first of his writings I've seen. His column makes perfect sense in and of itself, and his column was the subject of my comment; the only subject pure and simple. No red mist of activism, no little voices. You are free to read anything else you want into it. But know that inclusion of any other -ism or -phobia on my part is pure fabrication on your part.

You call Bret Stevens a right wing nut job. I saw Mr. Stephens interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word program. O'Donnell was in total agreement with Stevens and also bemoaned the absence of intellectual discourse in the haranguing that nowadays substitutes for debate (much like you practice). It was O'Donnell that promoted Stephens' article, not Steve Bannon or FOX news. You do recall Stephens' remark about Rupert Murdoch in his column, right? No, I wouldn't call Lawrence O'Donnell or any of his guests an authoritarian police state fanfic (sic), fascist, racist, science denier, nazi lover, neo-confederate ... or a RWNJ. Neither would I call MSNBC or the New York Times mouthpieces for the alt-right.

That said, I don't expect that fact will alter your perceptions. It's not your style. That would defy Mr. Stephens' tenet of always keeping an open mind, and that defiance seems to give you great gratification.

I'll not respond to your further comments unless they apply to this article or my comment.

CallSaul wrote on October 10, 2017 at 11:10 am

As expected, you just spill more sanctimonious drivel.

Now go think up ways to support Trump in his personal attacks this morning on an individual citizen who dares to criticize him and his calls to sic the IRS on the NFL because he doesn't like the way some citizens associated with it are expressing themselves.


Ddobbs wrote on October 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Democrats voted against the civil rights bills in the 60's. You fools supported and faught for slavery. Look at every urban area controlled by you morons and what do you see? Save your verbosity for your fellow haters. Climate change? Really? Drink the Kool-aid much? I suggest you move to Venezuela so you can experience the full effects of your socialist views.

CallSaul wrote on October 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

It's no surprise that you'd trot out these lies and distortions...

Some southern dems, voting with some Republicans, voted against it. Most in both parties voted for it.

And Democratic presidents introduced the measures and shepharded them through congress and a Dem president signed it.

Then those Dems who voted against it became Republicans.

Just like most of the descendants of the southern Dems who fought for slavery more than 150 years ago.

The Dems kicked the southern racists out of their party and those racists were welcomed with open arms by the Republicans. 

The racists left the Democratic party and became Republicans after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. 

The liberal Republicans were kicked out of their party by the reactionary kooks and racists.

Why do you think the south is the region where the modern Republican party is the strongest...?

Learn some actual history and you might have an outside shot at not looking quite so staggeringly dumb next time...

Tom Napier wrote on October 12, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Thank you for your comment. I trust you found exercising your First Amendment right to call me a "fellow hater," "fool," and "moron" was a rewarding experience. I'll bet you aced your Civics Classes in grade school. And thank you for another validation that Bret Stevens' column is spot on.

I must, however, confess I'm having difficulty determining who it is I hate, at least who you say I hate; the right wing nut jobs or the "hey-hey ho-ho ... " crowd (i.e. speaker or protesters, respectively). On one hand you, imply that I'm a Democrat and Democrats voted for slavery in the 1960s, which per your stereotype implies I voted for slavery and therefore am a right wing racist bigot. Yet, on the other hand you suggest that because I'm a Democrat I'm a Socialist who should enjoy life in Venezula (sic). Please, either clarify or make up your mind.

To compare Southern Democrats of the 1960s with contemporary Democrats is patently flawed.  It's like saying Luis Aparacio and Wilson Contraras are exactly the same because they are both Venezuelan ball players.  Just a thought, but may I suggest you incorporate at least a little factual information when assigning stereotypes to people. Yes, Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But more voted for it. And yes, Republicans voted against the Civil Rights Act, but more voted for it. I strongly suspect you'll not take my word for it so here are the vote totals, by party and region:

The original House version:

• Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)

• Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)

• Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)

• Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)

The Senate version:

• Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)

• Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)

• Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)

• Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

You'll note more Southern Democrats voted FOR the Act than Southern Republicans voted FOR the Act in both the House and Senate.

Thus, in a democracy, the majority prevailed and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Law.

One last thing. There are two flavors of Kool-Aid; flat-earth denier and eco-nazi. Which flavor am I drinking? It's hard to tell from your ... discourse.

CallSaul wrote on October 12, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Uh, Tom...that comment was written by the RWNJ troll Ddobbs, not me...

And note that he was replying to me, not to you.

Please get moar better at following threads on here...

Tom Napier wrote on October 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm


My intent was to reply to ddobbs comment, not yours.  The way I read the indenture, he was responding to one of my comments.  The line from the top left corner of your reply connects to the bottom left of his comment. My reply was placed directly under yours, indicating that my comment was the next-in-line to ddobbs.  Were I to reply to your comment, it would have been indented under your comment. I think.

Whatever, sometimes it's a bit tricky following the sequence and indentures, and I apologize for having caused any confusion.  I'll work on my thread following skills. 

FYI, I have no idea whether ddobbs is a right wing nut job, left wing anarachist, somewhere in the middle (although I doubt it), or simply confused -- I don't know.  But it's my opinion he/she didn't express his opinion very well.

CallSaul wrote on October 12, 2017 at 7:10 pm

He was not responding to your comment.

He was responding to my comment beginning: 'The only people surprised that the protests against the RWNJ were peaceful are you and the other RWNJs.'

As to his worldview, read his other comments --- this troll is most definitely a RWNJ.

Illiniwek222 wrote on October 09, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Excellent comment. Thank you.

Illiniwek222 wrote on October 09, 2017 at 2:10 pm

I'd like to point out that my comment above referred to Mr. Napier's reasoned post, not the typical Saul response.

Saul uses "sad", "weak", "pathetic", "RWNJ", "racist", "bigoted", "snowflake", "lickspittle" repetitive. Extra credit words include "chicken feathers" and "Aunt Jemimah" childish.

His boring rants continue and contribute nothing to civil discourse. Thanks again, Mr. Napier. Unfortunately, more of Saul is sure to follow.



Tom Napier wrote on October 10, 2017 at 11:10 am

"Unfortunately, more of Saul is sure to follow."

I'm looking forward to it ... in a perverse sort of way.  LIke a train wreck, it's hard to turn away. 

wykhb wrote on October 13, 2017 at 12:10 am

As sadly comical as the SaulBot is, it quickly becomes boring as the steam dissipates and you realize it's just another pile of the same ol'....   Yeah.