Michael Knowles’ lecture disrupted by protestors at UMKC

Conservative pundit attacked and has lecture disrupted by radical protesters while speaking at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


Conservative pundit Michael Knowles gives lecture at event hosted by UMKC Young American’s for Freedom and UMKC College Republicans. Photo courtesy of Grace Reber.

Ali Harrison, News Editor

On Thursday, April 11, the Young Americans for Freedom and College Republican chapters of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, hosted conservative pundit and The Daily Wire contributor Michael Knowles to give a lecture entitled “Men Are Not Women” in which he would speak on transgenderism. This event was quickly disrupted by radical leftists, who were eventually police-escorted out of the lecture room and one was also arrested.

Several local media outlets have covered the protest, but very few of them – if any – were attending the event when the disruption began. The only people who can clearly clarify what happened were the people in that room. I was one of those people.

I was sitting in my seat on the far left side of the hall waiting patiently for the event to begin alongside my mother and one of my best friends Grace Reber, a junior at Shawnee Mission East. After an introduction by the YAF chapter chairman Seth Schibler, Knowles walked out to the podium with an unexpected introduction. Apparently a notice was posted via Snapchat that there would be a staged opposition in response to this ‘anti-trans event.’

“We recommend using an alias and registering as many guests as possible for the event. If you can’t attend, it helps if you register an alias anyway. Then you can attend the event. Try to be early. Disperse throughout the crowd. Be as disruptive as possible. At the sound of the phone alarm, stand up and walkout silently. This will be within five to ten minutes of the talk starting. Please remain silent during the walkout. Not doing so places trans-students and other participants at risk,” the Snapchat read.

Spoiler alert: the opposition did not walk out quietly.

Throughout the first few minutes of the lecture, the opposition interrupted Knowles and i innumerous amount of times and yelled vulgar things, like calling him an ‘a**hole.’ Knowles responded with humorous comments to the applause of the crowd.

The opposition became more and more disruptive to the point where I and others could not hear Knowles, which was I suppose was their goal. Fine.

A UMKC campus police officer was sitting a row in front of me. I asked him if there was anything he could do to reduce the disruption, but he told me that he could not remove anyone until Knowles said so. He allowed these people to interrupt his lecture. Not only is that respectable, but they just further proved his point of radically liberal college students being intolerant to hearing something they disagree with.

After less than 20 minutes of their ‘heckling,’ I suppose the walkout commenced. It was not silent as they screamed ‘f*ck you’ and flipped of Knowles. Their removal took several minutes as they were police-escorted out of the main entry and two side doors on either side of the room.

In that time, a masked protester entered the lecture hall and shot Knowles with a water gun full of an unknown liquid; in a statement released the following day by UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, the liquid was later clarified to be “lavender oil and some other non-toxic household liquids.” The livestream, posted on YouTube by The Daily Wire, clearly shows the white paint-like hitting Knowles’ jacket and the podium, and according to someone near the front, onto his printed speech. The protestor was immediately tackled by a police officer; the person resisted arrest and was tased and pepper sprayed by the officers. The tackle was immediately met by a chant of ‘hands up, don’t shoot,’ even though none of the officers had even reached for their guns and seemed to have no intention of doing so.

Also in the livestream you can see protestors attempting to re-enter the building through the side door on the far right, which was being guarded by two police officers that they were harassing and trying to push past. From my seat in the crowd, I saw the officers unable to close the door because of the group of protestors. After struggling for some time, I saw an officer reach for his taser, and they eventually closed the door.

The lecture continued uninterrupted, although I could still hear the protestors outside the hall doors. Knowles continued to speak and then answered a handful of questions from audience members, all of which can be seen on the livestream.

When the event concluded, my mother, friend and I were escorted out by one of my mother’s male friends and his girlfriend. As we all walked across a skyway connecting the building to a parking garage, we saw red and blue flashing lights down below. There was a group of about ten protesters with signs reading various extremities, the most memorable being “Knowles ideology kills trans women.”

Kansas City 41 Action News reported that the masked protester, a student at the university, was charged with “assault, destruction of property, and disturbing schools of other lawful assemblies.”

“Dabu allegedly sprayed ‘an unknown chemical substance from a water gun’ on two UMKC police officers ‘causing burns to their body,’ according to reports filed in Kansas City, Missouri, Municipal Court,” Kansas City 41 Action News wrote. “The destruction of property charge stems from damage to the officers’ uniforms.”

In the aforementioned statement from the university, the chancellor praised the “peaceful protestors” spreading “positive messages about diversity and inclusion” before and during the speech. However, he also condemned the attack saying, “…some others crossed a line.” He supports free speech and believes others should be respectful of each other and differing opinions.

Juniors Ali Harrison and Grace Reber, a Shawnee Mission East student, attend Michael Knowles’ lecture.

As much as the conservative movement often overreacts in regards to liberalism and alleged indoctrination, it is undeniable that radical liberals are causing issues on college campuses. I specifically say radical liberals because not all liberals intentionally disrupt speeches they disagree with and shoot unknown liquids at speakers, but the radical ones do. We saw it tonight, we’ve seen it before and we will continue to see it.

It’s also important to clarify that there are condemnable radicals on both sides of the aisles. Yes, there are radical conservatives who do equally terrible things. However, on college campuses, you don’t see those radical conservatives disrupting speeches by liberals, and definitely not to the degree of radical liberals. Dozens of speeches from right-wing speakers on college campuses have been disrupted by radical liberals: conservative pundit Ben Shapiro on several campuses, various conservatives at UC-Berkeley, and now Michael Knowles at UMKC.

We all want to support our right to speak. In order to do so, we must support everyone unconditionally, even the people we disagree with. Screaming and shouting like toddlers is immature and frankly ridiculous. This isn’t necessary a political problem, but it’s definitely a culture problem. Someone needs to fix this before it escalates any further and completely destroys civil discourse.