On Tuesday, a group of ten College Republican members set out to stage a peaceful protest on the campus of the University of Central Missouri (UCM) in Warrensburg, Missouri, as President Obama was visiting the campus to give a speech. The week before, the state board of the Missouri College Republicans sent out emails, Facebook invites, and Twitter invites to fellow Missiouri CRs in the hopes of having a peaceful and respectful protest.
Missouri College Republicans state vice-chair, Kailea Bogner, said, “I wanted to do a demonstration because as the UCM College Republican President, I felt we needed to be heard on the national stage and by President Obama. Specifically, it is important that College Republicans be heard on issues relating to the economy and student issues, because we are the next generation and the individuals that President Obama’s failed economic policies are going to have a detrimental impact on.” The signs that the protestors held were telling passerby’s about Capitalism, Missouri’s 16% student youth unemployment rate, and the increasing debt crisis and how it affects students.
The group protested in the “public speech area” of campus that was far away from where the Obama event was being held. They only really got to speak with a few people throughout the day about why they were assembling. Missouri College Republican state treasurer, Courtney Scott, said, “It was really peaceful, in fact it was remarkably quiet for a demonstration. Only a few passerby spoke to us, and everything was civil.”
After they demonstrated, they made their way to the line to go inside to hear him speak. They had put away all their signs, as per the rules, and carried nothing with them to go inside. The group was planning on just going to the event to hear the President speak, not to cause any problems, and were being utterly respectful. However, after they getting to the doors, they were turned away by the security officer at the door. The officer said to the group decked out in Republican T-shirts, “You will not be allowed any further,” as they attempted to enter the doors of the event. He then explained that the students weren’t being turned away because of politics, but for the president’s safety.
This is what those students, who had been deemed a “security threat,” looked like:
Scott said, “I thought the officer’s conduct was rude, and I do think it’s strange that his immediate defense upon denying us was, ‘It’s not because you’re Republican or Democrat.'” Scott also said, “Regardless of one’s political party it would have been a great opportunity to hear from the president. I would never want to turn down that opportunity and am disappointed we didn’t get to see him in person.”
Chairman Alex Smith of the College Republican National Committee said in a press-release this morning, “This is outrageous. How can the President expect to work with Republicans on Capitol Hill when his team is busy banning conservative students on college campuses? It just proves what a farce this “pivot tour” has been. It is clear that President Obama would rather preach to a pre-screened liberal choir than work across the aisle.”
Is it fair to turn people away from an opportunity to hear the president speak just because of their political affiliation? Because they “might cause trouble?” Is President Obama and his staff so scared of peaceful protesters that they should deny these college students the right to see the president speak in person? Freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble are rights guaranteed to every American. Being turned away to an event because of one’s civil protest that followed all laws seems wrong, correct?
Hopefully, Obama hears something about this and realizes that he’s damaging his image as perceived by the Republican Party even more. For being a former Constitutional Law professor, President Obama could learn a thing or two about the Bill of Rights and freedoms given to every American.