KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Charges have been filed in connection to a protest conducted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday night.
One person was injured during a protest that happened at an event on UMKC’s campus on Thursday night.
Gerard G. Dabu was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with assault and resisting arrest.
The disturbance happened during an event at Royall Hall, reportedly inside Stack Auditorium.
According to UMKC’s website, the event was called “A Night with Michael Knowles.” Knowles was invited by Young Americans for Freedom and the topic of the lecture was "men are not women."
The incident happened at about 8:15 p.m. The event was set to start at 8 p.m.
On Friday afternoon, UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal issued a lengthy statement on the matter:
Last night, our campus witnessed a collision of two principles that we steadfastly support: the right to free expression and the right to civil protest in response to views we disagree with. The evening’s events laid bare deep divisions that exist in our society today – divisions that UMKC works diligently to address through education, support and commitment to our values.
A student group brought a speaker to campus – a speaker whose professed opinions do not align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our goal of providing a welcoming environment to all people, particularly to our LGBT community.
Upon learning of this speaker’s visit, members of our UMKC community responded in the best way – by organizing and conducting a counter-event across campus Thursday afternoon focused on positive messages about diversity and inclusion. And even during the speech, some peaceful protesters stood and expressed disagreement with the speaker’s views.
Then, unfortunately, some others crossed a line. UMKC must maintain a safe environment in which all points of view, even extreme ones, are allowed to be heard.
An individual who has been identified as a UMKC student attacked the speaker and others by spraying what was then an unknown substance, but police had no choice but to react as if the substance was an immediate danger. Tests later revealed the substance to be lavender oil and some other non-toxic household liquids. The individual was arrested and has been charged with assault and other violations. A campus disciplinary investigation is under way.
Here is where we stand as we move forward after this incident:
We remain absolutely committed to the rights and well-being of all members of our university community, especially our students. Our absolute commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and the equal rights of members of the LGBTQ community remains one of our highest priorities.
UMKC is a university, which by definition must allow the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions, including controversial and unpopular ones. As a taxpayer-funded public university, UMKC is also required by law to strictly enforce the First Amendment right to free speech for all.
Our expectations for students, faculty, staff and visitors is that we each express ourselves in ways that are respectful of others and faithful to the Statement of Values that guides our learning community.
As I wrote Monday in a note to campus about the role of higher education in civil discussion: We continue to urge everyone in our UMKC community, and the broader community, to stay true to our values in the face of provocation, and to respond to bias and intolerance with reason and courage; to hardened attitudes with open minds and honest questions; to false statements with calm, fact-based challenges.
We must continue to grow and learn on this journey together.
"Michael appears regularly on Fox & Friends, EWTN News Nightly, and OANN Tipping Point, among other television news programs. He has lectured at research institutes and universities throughout the United States, including the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, Florida State University, the University of Alabama, Yeshiva University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Alabama Policy Institute, and many others. Vanity Fair has described Michael as 'a dapper, lib-triggering troll.'"
Protesters could be seen at UMKC on Thursday night holding signs outside that said, "Trans rights are human rights," "Respect my existence," and "Trans men are men."
Those protesters outside, who did not have tickets to the event, said they wanted to send the message that Knowles was not welcome there.
There were also protesters inside the lecture hall in an attempt to disrupt the speech. Someone who was there showed KCTV5 News video that they took and protesters could be seen going up and down the stairs, yelling and shouting, but things were not physical. Then, someone can be seen getting taken down to the ground.
A university spokesperson said it had gotten to the point of being disruptive, so they were trying to get people out of the building. Something then "went off" or "liquid" was sprayed, according to witnesses. Due to things becoming physically disruptive, they tried to arrest someone.
Everyone was then pushed out of the room, but people were trying to get back inside.
A UMKC spokesperson confirmed that university police used a taser on one protester and used pepper spray, or O.C. spray, on several others.
The taser was used on the protester they were arresting, who was reportedly resisting arrest. That person was the one who was injured and was treated at the scene.