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UMKC Chancellor Responds To Assault On Daily Wire's Knowles By Condemning Knowles, Praising Peaceful Protesters

Michael Knowles
The Michael Knowles Show
 

At a Young America's Foundation-sponsored event on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Thursday night, Michael Knowles, host of The Daily Wire's "Michael Knowles Show" podcast, was sprayed by a protester with an unknown chemical substance as Knowles attempted to give a speech titled "Men Are Not Women." The protester's actions prompted police to subdue the assailant as the room erupted in chaos.

 

Below is video of the moment the protester sprayed the substance on Knowles, triggering the immediate action of police and the chaotic response from the room:

On Friday, the chancellor of the university issued a statement to the UMKC campus community in which he praised students who organized to protest the conservative speaker peacefully and condemned Knowles as allegedly holding opinions that "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."

"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," Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal's letter begins. "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."

Agrawal then felt it appropriate to openly condemn Knowles as holding views that allegedly counter the values of the entire campus community: "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," he wrote.

 

The chancellor then praised the protests conducted by some of the students on the campus. "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," he wrote. "And even during the speech, some peaceful protesters stood and expressed disagreement with the speaker’s views."

But, Agrawal admits, some of these protesters "crossed a line," forcing campus police to respond. The protester who attacked Knowles with the chemical substance is a student at the university, the chancellor reveals. The police response was necessary, he explains, as it was unclear in the moment what kind of liquid the student shot at the speaker.

"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," he writes. "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."

 

Agrawal goes on to provide three takeaways from the incident, including that the university is "required" to uphold free speech as protected by the First Amendment because it is a taxpayer-funded intitution.

After the incident Thursday, Knowles told The Daily Wire in a statement: "The topic of my lecture was 'Men Are Not Women.' Apparently this plain fact was so offensive to some leftist thugs that one of them decided to shoot me in the face and side with a super soaker full of what appeared to be glitter-colored bleach. At first I just thought it was paint because of the color and smell. I was later told it was bleach; police now say that the substance merely smelled like bleach. This is what conservatives on campus are up against. This is the kind of violence conservatives on campus stand to face if they state plain facts and refuse to kowtow to leftist fantasy."

Below is the full text of Agrawal's letter:

To Our Campus Community:

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.

Sincerely,

C. Mauli Agrawal

Chancellor

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