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Protestors and a supporter of a scheduled event featuring Gavin McInnes and Alex Stein engaged in a confrontation outside of Penn State’s Thomas Building on Monday night. The event was canceled shortly before it was scheduled to begin. Photo by Alysa Rubin | Onward State
Penn State University Police and Public Safety (UPPS) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to its handling of a protest near the Thomas Building on Monday night.
The gathering was organized by The Student Committee for Defense and Solidarity in response to an on-campus event featuring self-described “professional troll” Alex Stein and Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. The event was canceled by Penn State one hour before its scheduled start time.
Penn State Police wrote that, prior to the event starting, it was “not aware of any credible threats of violence” but still “engaged with external law enforcement and public safety partners in developing a comprehensive security plan” in preparation for the worst-case scenario.
Associate Vice President for University Police and Public Safety Charlie Noffsinger said police recommended the event be canceled after “violence between between protesters and supporters of the event outside the Thomas Building” ensued.
“The safety of our community is our number one priority, and as we prepared for last evening’s event, that was the foremost concern in our mind and in our preparations,” he said. “Despite the University’s goal of upholding free speech, given the agitated demonstrators, at least one known physical altercation, a crowd surge toward the building, and chemical spray of the crowd and officers, taken altogether, it was a safety risk to continue to move forward and we did recommend the event be canceled.”
Local police officers in tactical riot gear and Pennsylvania State Police troopers on horseback were all on-site Monday night. University Police said they are aware pepper spray was used in the crowd of protesters but that no law enforcement officers deployed spray.
Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi wrote in a statement early Monday morning that it was “unclear which individuals onsite then resorted to physical confrontation and to using pepper spray against others in the crowd, including against police officers.” Videos that surfaced online show a person dressed in all black deploying a spray before fleeing the scene. Police did not appear to pursue the person.
Police also wrote that one misdemeanor arrest was made Monday night for “disorderly conduct and defiant trespass” and that charges will be filed in the near future.
“We are grateful for the support we received from the administration and from across the commonwealth as we made decisions about the safety of all involved in last night’s events,” Noffsinger said. “We are thankful for the fact that no one had been seriously injured.”
Anyone with additional information about Monday’s events can contact the University Park Police Station at 814-863-111. Anonymous reports can be made online at
Pennsylvania State Police did not respond to a request for comment about any additional arrests made.
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