Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

TPUSA Threatens Lawsuit Over Rittenhouse Event, Alleging Sabotage by UofM; Opposing Protesters Also Express Dissatisfaction

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), took to X on Thursday afternoon — the day after the TPUSA-hosted Kyle Rittenhouse event on campus — to threaten the University of Memphis with a lawsuit, asserting that the University of Memphis colluded with protestors to sabotage the event.

The X post, which has 11 thousand likes and 3.1 thousand retweets, reads, “I will be asking TN lawmakers to investigate if the University of Memphis colluded with local protesters to sabotage last night’s TPUSA event with Kyle Rittenhouse. We may also file our own lawsuit on viewpoint discrimination. Stay tuned!”

Kirk further expressed his plans on his daily radio show, The Charlie Kirk Show. “We very well might file a lawsuit. We might file a lawsuit just on technical grounds. Because again, the way that campus speech is supposed to be administered is from viewpoint neutrality,” Kirk said. “Taxpayer funded universities, especially state universities, are not allowed to say, ‘You know, we really don’t like Kyle Rittenhouse. We don’t like Turning Point. We’re going to go help BLM to compromise the ticketing system and give them a leg- up.’ It’s not legal. You can’t do that.”

Much of the speculation behind the university’s potential collusion with protestors comes from the ticketing glitch that occurred in the weeks leading up to the event. This glitch resulted inthe university swapping ticketing systems with TPUSA the night before the event, which Charlie Kirk claims was a ploy by the university to wipe out the existing tickets and give protestors an even greater opportunity to seize the limited 300 tickets.

Tickets to the Rittenhouse event were initially available to register for exclusively through the Turning Point USA website. However, some students who registered did not receive a confirmation email, while others who did, encountered a white screen with an “error 304” message when trying to view their tickets.

Laurel Forand, a freshman neurobehavioral psychology major, encountered this problem when she originally registered for a single student ticket through the Turning Point USA website the morning after the event was announced on March 1. Immediately after learning about the event, Forand began organizing a protest with the Collegiate Debate Society and planned to use the ticket to participate in a mass walk-out.

“The ticket link hadn’t been working pretty much the entire one [or] two weeks between the announcement of the event to the event happening,” Forand said.

Nathan Vieuz, a junior mechanical engineering major, similarly received an error message when clicking on the “view my tickets” link after registering for a ticket three to five days before the event.

Another issue was invalid tickets. In the days leading up to the event, at least 14 students received emails that their tickets were deemed invalid. These students then brought this to the attention of the university. It so happened that these 14 students were mostly students of color. The university questioned TPUSA Memphis chapter members, who adamantly denied compromising these students’ tickets, assuring that they had no control over whose tickets were deemed invalid.

“Race is not a factor TPUSA uses when vetting. The electronic system does not even not have access to that type of information,” said a TPUSA Memphis chapter member. However, university administrators insisted that TPUSA’s ticketing methodswere “not fair and equitable.”

While it has been suggested that Turning Point USA uses human vetting methods like pre-interviewing and accessing the legitimacy of individuals interested in attending their events, this was refuted by Turning Point USA Memphis chapter members, assuring that no human vetting system was used for this particular event. The only vetting system used was electronic in order to catch phony email addresses. TPUSA Memphis chapter members speculate that an overwhelming number of clicks, combined with several fake phone numbers and emails, caused the system to shut down and reboot itself.

As a result of this glitch and complaints from students, the night before the event, Melanie Murry, a lawyer within the Office of Legal Counsel and Melinda Carlson, the vice president for Student Affairs, informed the TPUSA Memphis organizers that “the event may proceed onlyby re-ticketing the event through the University’s ticketing system.”

In addition, the university also demanded that the 50 seats originally reserved for TPUSA members and organizers would be reduced to a single row of eight seats. TPUSA Memphis agreed to the university’s plan that a new re-ticketing link be posted at 9 a.m., and thirty minutes prior, emails would be sent informing previous registrars that their tickets were no longer valid.

On schedule, at 9 a.m., students started receiving emails that morning from TPUSA that read, “Due to the University’s stringent ticketing requirements, your ticket to tonight’s event featuring Kyle Rittenhouse is unfortunately no longer valid.”

“I was strongly upset,” Vieuz said. “The biggest issue I had was that not only did they cancel the ticket, but then the resale for the tickets felt like it was kept under lock and key.”

Since the event, a screenshot, obtained by TPUSA Memphis chapter leadership, of a group chat consisting mostly of protesters was leaked, showing a message sent the night before the event when the decision to switch ticketing systems was made, that reads, “I was told that they will be re-ticketing the event tomorrow morning between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Please make sure to get a new ticket so more of us can participate in the walk-out aspect of the protest.” It is unclear who sent this message.

From Charlie Kirk’s perspective, this insinuates that someone from the university leaked this information to give protesters a heads-up to be prepared to register for as many tickets as possible to make up the majority of attendees and either shout Kyle down or leave him speaking to an empty theater.

TPUSA spokesperson Andrew Kolvetsaid in a statement on Wednesday, “The University of Memphis has taken unprecedented actions to undermine our event. Seizing control of seating arrangements and the ticketing system – on the day of the event – has never happened in our many years of campus organizing.”

In another article, Turning Point USA characterized the university as “undermining” the event. Included in that article was a leaked audio recording of a meeting between the Chief of Campus Police Keith Humphrey; his second-in-command, Colonel Preston Morton; Lauren Shelley, the director of Conferences and Event Services; two TPUSA representatives and the then interim TPUSA Memphis president, after he reported that his address and phone number had been leaked on social media, combined with misinformation about his role in the event. The TPUSA article characterized Shelley as “laugh [ing] after suggesting that the student ‘probably shouldn’t stay there [at his leaked apartment address] tonight.’”

“The Breitbart News and Turning Point USA articles do not provide information based on facts,” wrote Shelley via email in response to such characterizations. “The student and I met this morning, and there is no thought or feeling from their end that I laughed. I take personal safety — especially as it relates to students — very seriously. The student and I both feel I have been mischaracterized with false information.”

The personal agendas of the security employed that night have also been called into question by some TPUSA Memphis members. One campus police officer was seen high-fiving a protester as they exited the UC Theater during the mass walk-out.

In addition, TPUSA members expressed bafflement as to why security led them out the side doors closest to the mob rather than across the bridge that connects the UC to the parking garage. This resulted in many of the protesters recognizing key TPUSA organizers, running after them, following them to their cars, and subsequently spitting, cursing and physically preventing them from leaving the parking garage.

It is unclear what Charlie Kirk and the Turning Point USA organization’s exact course of legal action will be against the university. However, Kirk implied that they have something planned in the near future.

Similar Posts