Kyle Rittenhouse booed during University of Memphis speech

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A controversial guest speaker made his way to the University of Memphis Wednesday night.

Kyle Rittenhouse spoke at the UC Theater, but his appearance has sparked weeks of controversy throughout the community. Rittenhouse walked on stage with his dog to mostly jeers from the crowd of about 50-75.

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"On August 25th of 2020, I was violently attacked by a mob of rioters," he said before he was shouted down. The event quickly went into a Q&A session.

Rittenhouse was abruptly rushed off the stage after only about 30 minutes as protestors inside booed him, yelled and disrupted him.

Kyle Rittenhouse on stage at the University of Memphis (screenshot from submitted video)
Kyle Rittenhouse event at UofM stirs up controversy on campus

"This man is real violent and you have many people who told me they don’t even feel comfortable being on campus today," student Moses Davis said.

There were hundreds of people outside protesting. In fact, far more people were outside than there were inside.

"They’re portraying him like this icon for the gun people," student Franko Coleman said. "We already have enough gun violence in Memphis itself, so having this guy come here and spread racist views and also talking about how we need more guns on the street ... I think it’s awful, just baffling, that they allow this. Because this is borderline free speech, but this is more toward hate speech."

Despite this, there were several in attendance who agreed that this is freedom of speech, and they were in favor of it.

"I saw the footage of him on the ground getting beat with a skateboard. And so he defended himself, there is multiple angles of this happening," supporter Dean Musarra said.

Rittenhouse was acquitted of killing two men and wounding another during a Black Lives Matter rally in Wisconsin in 2020 when he was 17 years old.

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"There’s a lot of misinformation and so I am just curious to hear from him exactly what he’s been through and what he has to say. I want to hear his side of the story," Carla van Shaick said.

Rittenhouse was invited to the University of Memphis by the campus organization Turning Point USA.

In a statement to WREG sent last week from their national headquarters, they said, “Attempts to cancel or censor events like these only serve to stifle the exchange of ideas and limit the intellectual diversity to which students are exposed."

According to a spokesperson with the University of Memphis, tickets were re-issued after some people discovered the codes on their tickets had disappeared, and were concerned they wouldn't work.

All ticketholders had to reapply for tickets Wednesday morning, after learning the tickets they got as early as weeks ago may not be valid.

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