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Culture

Polarizing Views The open carry standoff in September mirrors the state of our nation with steadfast views, uncertainty and distrust

“Y

our rights do not end where their feelings begin.” Ryan Fournier, the national chair of Students for Trump, shares this sentiment with gun rights activists in the parking lot next to Satterfield Hall. The group of roughly 70 stand with posters in hand and many with guns slung over backs. It’s a bright, autumn Saturday on Sept. 29, minutes before the start of the Open Carry Walk on Kent State’s main campus. At the edge of the lot, with their backs to the Student Center, dozens of police troopers wait for the group to move. As the walk starts, moving from the lot, across the street and toward the Esplanade, a river of 200 or more counterprotestors — a mix of students, Black Lives Matter members and Antifa — flows from the Student Center where they had gathered. Shouts begin with “Go home, commies” and “Stop crossing my campus.” More counterprotestors run alongside those walking, some running farther ahead

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and in front of the group, followed by even more. “Let’s go!” “Get close!” “Lock arms!” Within mere minutes of the walk beginning, counterprotestors halt the procession between Bowman and Olson Hall. When the counterprotestors do not give any sign of allowing the walk to continue, police troopers surrounding the walkers don riot gear, pulling their face shields down. The only thing separating the two groups is this line of police. Some counterprotestors stand in their own line with linked arms while others stand farther back around the sides of the walkers. Together, they chant “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA. No Trump. No KKK, No Fascist USA.” Soon the police begin a chant of their own: “Move back. Move back. Move back,” as the officers attempt to break the human wall of counterpostestors and clear the brick path. The counterprotestors hold their ground. The standoff begins, on campus and in the country.

WORDS BY

Megan Ayscue

PHOTOS BY

Sophia DelCiappo

Before the standoff, before the walk, before there was even mention of a rally, there was Kaitlin Bennett. Bennett graduated Kent State in May when she also posted her graduation photos online. These photos show her walking across campus, the Kent State water fountain to her left, an AR10 strapped to her back and a graduation cap in hand reading, “Come and take it.” These photos were captioned on Twitter with “Now that I graduated from @KentState, I can finally arm myself on campus. I should have been able to do so as a student — especially since four unarmed students were shot and killed by the government on this campus. #CampusCarryNow.” The photos have gathered nearly 7,500 comments, 9,000 retweets and 38,000 likes since initially posted, a rise from the 3,000 likes they originally received. Bennett and these photos gathered attentioned from the likes of the Washington Post and USA Today, BBC and CBS, and even more.

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