Ohio University Police Deny Gun Rights Advocate Kaitlin Bennett's Claims That Her Visit 'Started a Riot'

Campus police have countered claims by controversial gun rights advocate Kaitlin Bennett that her visit to Ohio University "started a riot."

Bennett visited the campus in Athens, Ohio, on Monday, accompanied by an entourage from her Liberty Hangout website and a bodyguard, to film a video asking students about Presidents Day, Athens News reported.

The activist, who gained notoriety after open-carrying an AR-10 rifle at Ohio's Kent State University on her graduation day in 2018, left the campus less than two hours after arriving, the newspaper reported. She later took to Twitter to allege that her appearance had "started a riot" and that Ohio University Police "let it happen."

Ohio University Police issued a statement saying Bennett's "unexpected" visit attracted a "large crowd" exercising their First Amendment rights, and that no riot occurred at the campus.

Bennett shared a video on Twitter of the protesters including some who appeared to throw liquids at her vehicle, writing alongside the clip that President Donald Trump should strip funding from universities that "harbor terrorists."

"This is what happens when a Trump supporter goes to a college campus," she wrote alongside the clip. "Leftists at @ohiou started a riot when @Joelpatrick1776 and I showed up, and the @oupolice let it happen. I think @realDonaldTrump should strip funding from universities like this that harbor terrorists."

Ohio University Police issued a statement on Monday saying "there was strong language" and allegations of liquids being thrown, but no injuries or violence was reported and no arrests were made.

They said both Bennett and the protesters were exercising their First Amendment rights and that officers were present throughout the incident "to protect everyone's rights and safety."

"An activist appeared unexpectedly on the Ohio University in Athens and engaged in constitutionally protected activity," the statement said. "She drew a large crowd of people, many with opposing viewpoints, who also chose to exercise their First Amendment rights."

It added: "Contrary to allegations circulating on social media, the incident did not rise to the level of a riot. 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."

Police said they didn't ask anyone to leave the campus at any point. They also said that they were not notified of Bennett's plans to come to the university on Monday, which "deprived the department of the ability to plan staffing levels."

Bennett later claimed on Twitter that students "were throwing things at me all day" and "dumped hot coffee on me." She also vowed to return to the campus with "an army of gun owners for an open carry walk." She added: "You can't keep us away and you can't keep us silent."

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Ohio University said: "Ohio University is committed to fostering an atmosphere that allows 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."

Bennett and Ohio University Police have been contacted for additional comment.

The incident led to Bennett trending on Twitter on Tuesday, with some condemning the response to her appearance and others blasting her for her actions and comments.

"Ms. Bennett, you have a right to your opinion, and a right to voice it. These college students do as well," the Libertarian Party tweeted. "Calling them 'terrorists' because they utilized their right to assembly and speech is both dishonest and shameful."

Voice actor Neil Kaplan wrote: "Oh, the irony of a 2nd Amendment advocate screaming for the government to take retribution against those expressing themselves."

Actor James Woods also responded to the incident, writing: "#Democrats embrace the mob mentality at an early age."

Blaze correspondent Elijah Schaffer added: "Violence against conservatives is NOT OKAY just because it's socially acceptable You can't assault someone just because they voted for@realDonaldTrump."

Ohio University stock
Stock photo shows the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio. Students protested the visit of gun rights advocate Kaitlin Bennett at the campus on Monday. Getty
Ohio University Police Deny Gun Rights Advocate Kaitlin Bennett's Claims That Her Visit 'Started a Riot' | U.S.