After being accosted on campus by several hundred protesters, Kaitlin Bennett tweeted that she would be returning to Ohio University with “an army of gun owners for an open carry walk through campus.”
Ohio law permits the open carry of firearms in all outside public areas, however, possession of weapons is prohibited by the OU student code of conduct. That means non-OU students are permitted to carry guns on campus grounds.
Bennett’s tweet came about seven hours after she left campus as protesters yelled, held up middle fingers and threw water into the open window of the truck that she left in.
Hundreds of students flocked to Baker Center on Monday to see Bennett, also known as the “Kent State Gun Girl,” who came to campus to film a video for her conservative group, Liberty Hangout.
About 400 people gathered in front of Baker Center to see Bennett, a viral gun rights activist turned conservative media figure and provocateur. She was in front of a camera asking students trivia questions about President’s Day.
Bennett first went viral on social media in 2018 when she posed with an assault rifle for graduation photos on Kent State University’s campus. Since then, Bennett has toured colleges and cities across the country, advocating for conservative voices on campus.
Bennett arrived at Ohio University at about 1:30 p.m. with a bodyguard and several members of Liberty Hangout, a libertarian media outlet that is affiliated with the conservative news outlet Infowars.
After having been accosted by the crowd, Bennett and her group headed for the escalators in Baker Center at about 2:15 p.m. The crowd of students followed down the escalators as others leaned over the railings on the third and fourth floors, chanting for Bennett to “go home.”
After stopping to talk to several students, Bennett was carried by her bodyguard toward the Baker Center parking lot at about 2:45 p.m., where her and her group climbed into a bright orange Ford pickup truck emblazoned with Iron Crosses and an Ohio license plate that read, “TRUMKIN.”
Ohio University Police Department Lt. Tim Ryan said his department did not tell her to leave.
“Speaking about ideas that people in the vicinity disagree with is not a crime,” Ryan said in an email.
Afterward, Bennett posted a video on her Twitter that shows students shouting, holding up middle fingers and throwing drinks into the open window of the truck.
Bennett later tweeted, “I went to @ohiou to ask President's Day trivia questions like "who were the first 3 presidents." It's not my fault the students there are a bunch of whiny children that have to throw temper tantrums because someone they disagree with shows up.”
OUPD later released a statement on Twitter addressing rumors on social media that OUPD asked Bennett to leave campus.
“Contrary to allegations circulating on social media, the incident did not rise to the level of a riot,” the press release said. “There was strong language, and allegations that some unknown person(s) in the crowd splashed water, but there were no reported injuries or violence, and no one was arrested during the event.”
The statement explained that while prior notice of Bennett’s arrival was not required, it would have allowed for officers to prepare for the crowd.
“As a result, the officers on duty had to prioritize their response to the events as they unfolded, rightly putting everyone’s personal safety ahead of all other concerns,” the press release read.
Bennett arrived at OU on the same day as the first OHIO Up Close campus tours. Jackson Hughes, a junior studying strategic communications, said some tours had to be rerouted to avoid the crowd at Baker Center.
Carly Leatherwood, a university spokeswoman, said in an email that the university values the “free and peaceful exchange of diverse thoughts and ideas.”
“The University urges its community to respect the rights guaranteed to all under the state and federal constitutions,” Leatherwood said in an email.