Conservative writer Lucian Wintrich was arrested after an altercation during a speech he was giving at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in November 2017. He followed and forcefully grabbed a woman after she snatched his papers from the speaker’s podium in the middle of a speech titled, “It’s OK to be White.”
Lucian Wintrich is the White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that garners millions of monthly views. He is one of the first openly gay members of the White House Press Corps, and, at age 29, one of the youngest. Wintrich gained popularity during the 2016 presidential election with his #Twinks4Trump photo series of scantily dressed gays wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ caps. Previously, Wintrich was scheduled to speak at New York University (NYU) in February 2018, but the event was postponed due to security concerns. He eventually spoke to the NYU College Republicans in March.
The UConn College Republicans Club invited Wintrich to speak on campus. His speech was to discuss identity politics and was scheduled for November 28, 2017. In the lead-up to the event, many of the posters advertising his visit were removed, reported CNN. In response to the vandalism, the College Republicans posted a message on Facebook, which read, “It is sad that our fellow students at UConn have to take down or modify Lucian Wintrich’s posters because they disagree with free speech and individualism. Don’t worry, we put more up!”
About 350 people attended the event, many of whom were there to protest it. Wintrich was interrupted frequently as he tried to speak. According to The Washington Post, people shouted things like “Go home, Nazi!” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Pandemonium ensued when a woman, later identified as Catherine Gregory, an adviser at nearby Quinebaug Valley Community College, approached the speaker’s podium and snatched a piece of paper from it. As she walked away, Wintrich followed her, pulled at her backpack, and grabbed her in an attempt to retrieve his papers. The police quickly restrained him and led him out of the room. Wintrich was put into custody and charged with misdemeanor breach of peace. He was released later the same evening on a $1,000 bond, reported CNN.
University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said a UConn student, identified as Sean Miller, was arrested for allegedly breaking a window, and that someone threw a smoke bomb inside the building as the audience was dispersing. No injuries were reported in the chaos, she said.
UConn President Susan Herbst also commented on the events surrounding Wintrich’s appearance. Her statement read, “We live in a tense and angry time of deep political division. Our hope as educators is that creative leadership and intellectual energy can be an antidote to that sickness, especially on university campuses. Between the offensive remarks by the speaker who also appeared to aggressively grab an audience member and the reckless vandalism that followed, that was certainly not the case on our campus tonight.”
Herbst also announced that UConn would change its vetting process for campus speakers and attendees. The Hartford Courant reported that the university would begin to review guest lists and the backgrounds of potential speakers when students seek to reserve space, equipment, or “security resources” for events on campus.
Following the incident on November 28, Wintrich tweeted, “It’s really unfortunate that some of the kids at @UConn felt the need to be violent and disruptive during a speech that focused on how the leftist media is turning Americans against each other. Tonight proved my point.”
Charges against Wintrich dropped
According to the Post, the misdemeanor breach-of-peace charge against Wintrich was dropped in December 2017. The Courant reported that the state recognized that the incident occurred when he was attempting to regain the papers the woman had taken from the podium. He did not appear before a judge.
Charges brought against Gregory, eventually nolled
The Post reported that Gregory turned herself in as the paper snatcher in December 2017. Her attorney claimed she had grabbed Wintrich’s speech notes as an act of First Amendment-protected protest. Nevertheless, she was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal attempt to commit larceny in the sixth-degree, reported the Courant.
In January 2018, Gregory’s case was put into a status that would result in the charges being dropped after 13 months have passed. According to the Courant, she must remain off the UConn campus for a year and make a $500 donation to UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Prepared by Bridget McElroy ‘18
Uploaded May 14, 2018