BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

Charlie Kirk speaks to large audience, met with silence outside

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JONATHAN HALE | STAFF

Speaking to a crowd of about 300, Kirk reaffirmed his support for former president Donald Trump, criticized COVID-19 safety measures and voiced cynicism of the FBI.

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Turning Point USA founder and conservative commentator Charlie Kirk spoke to about 300 students and community members Wednesday evening at Pauley Ballroom but was met with silence outside. 

UC Berkeley’s chapter of Turning Point USA hosted the talk, which was part of Kirk’s “Educate Don’t Mandate” tour. During the event, Kirk voiced his opposition to COVID-19 safety measures and environmental movements, as well as affirmed his support for police. 

While some members of Turning Point USA anticipated backlash, it remained relatively quiet on Sproul Plaza. Days before the event, both students and campus organizations encouraged the UC Berkeley community to refrain from protesting. 

“I thought (protest) was going to be a bigger problem,” said Bridge USA vice president Samaya Patel, who added that Kirk may have sought to elicit a response. “It’s a great thing that we had a lot less physical violence and a lot more …discourse.”

Before the event, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said campus planned to prioritize safety and to follow the “usual protocols and policies” for events sponsored by student organizations. 

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Kirk engaged with students on Sproul Plaza, including supporters and those in opposition, while UCPD officers remained close. Members of UC Berkeley’s Turning Point USA chapter also flyered, encouraging members of the campus community to attend the event. They generally remained optimistic about the event and its attendance.  

“I’m pretty excited that he’s coming to speak,” said campus sophomore and political science major Trinity Chung. “On this campus, specifically, there’s a necessity to hear both sides.”

Chung, along with President of Turning Point USA’s Castro Valley chapter Isela Becerra, said she hoped the event would run smoothly but thought there might be backlash. 

Several supporters waited outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union during the event, including Concord resident Annie Klotz, who looked forward to an “open conversation.”

“It’s really amazing that he’s coming here to Berkeley where there are a lot of outspoken students,” Klotz said.

Throughout the evening, Sproul Plaza remained relatively quiet. Some students said they had been looking forward to the event for days to “crowd watch” but decided to leave to complete their computer science homework. 

“There’s no one here!” said campus freshman Kyle Ito. 

Several students also lingered outside of the MLK building, stating they were more interested in witnessing any possible counter-protests than attending the event itself.

Attendees started filing into Pauley Ballroom at about 6:30 p.m., which later reached capacity.  Both students and members of the wider community attended. Turning Point USA Volunteers also donned “educate don’t mandate” shirts, and several wore Trump 2024 hats. UCPD officers remained in attendance. 

During the event — which included questions from the audience —  Kirk voiced his cynicism for Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the FBI. He also criticized various COVID-19 safety measures.

“Locking down America, forcing masks on them, forcing vaccines on them … is nothing more than generational theft,” Kirk said at the event. 

When asked about systemic racism, Kirk claimed increased police presence was justified given the alleged number of unsolved homicide cases, while placing blame on the Black community. 

“(I don’t) have a soft spot for people saying ‘there are too many police around. Now I can’t sell crack,’ ” Kirk said at the event. 

He also condemned looting and affirmed the importance of police. 

In response to a question about former president Donald Trump’s economic policy, Kirk said Republicans need to do more than “just cutting corporate taxes” for various corporations. 

“I’ve been against any kind of government spending, stimulus checks from the start,” Kirk said at the event, speaking about government spending. “Creating money out of thin air was wrong.”

He also suggested the nation drill more and explore domestic options rather than outsourcing to “countries that hate” the United States. Kirk then condemned supporters of the environmentalist movement, claiming it was not rooted in science and fact. 

In response to a question about dating a conservative in a predominantly liberal region, Kirk stressed the importance of making property more accessible, encouraged the audience to get married at a young age and said it should be easier to have children. 

“You should not date people with different politics from you,” Kirk said at the event. “You should date people you intend to marry.”

Kirk also affirmed his support for Trump as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 and thanked Berkeley conservatives. 

“Speakers like Charlie Kirk on the left and right are individuals who incite,” said Ensiyah Syed, a senior at San Jose State University, at a debrief event held by Bridge USA. “No action, just provocation.”

Kavya Gupta, Aditya Katewa, Julie Madsen, Aileen Wu and Riley Cooke contributed to this report. 

Contact Mallika Seshadri at 

LAST UPDATED

APRIL 14, 2022


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