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TN Politics: Rittenhouse Runs from Angry Tigers

Kyle Rittenhouse speaks briefly at the University of Memphis on March 20, 2024.
Kyle Rittenhouse speaks briefly at the University of Memphis on March 20, 2024.

A college chapter of the conservative group Turning Point USA brought controversial figure Kyle Rittenhouse to speak at the University of Memphis, where he was met with protests and disruptions and then run off campus with a police escort.

The group had advertised the speech as exposing the "lies" of the Black Lives Matter movement. Rittenhouse famously, was 17 years old when his mother allowed him to carry a rifle into the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest. He was attacked, and then shot three people. Two died. The homicides were ruled self defense.

Rittenhouse is now on a tour of colleges promoting universal gun carry.

After Wednesday's incident, many Republicans suggested that students had not respected Rittenhouse's First Amendment rights.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says considering recent legislation passed by Republicans — such as a doctrine of "Prohibited Concepts" that teachers are not allowed to mention regarding race — the free speech claim is "rich."

But Rittenhouse was never banned from campus and he did get a chance to be heard, though his message was rejected by a majority of his audience.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.