USF students protest visit from far-right grifter Kaitlin Bennett

Bennett is known for her viral graduation photo showing her carrying an AR-10 assault rifle at Kent State University.

click to enlarge USF students protest visit from far-right grifter Kaitlin Bennett
Screengrab via shivorsomething/Twitter

Kaitlin Marie Bennett, also known as the “Kent State Gun Girl,” was met by protesters at the University of South Florida Wednesday afternoon. 

In a video first posted to Twitter by @shivorsomething, Bennett made a surprise visit to the Tampa campus today, and was seen presumably filming for her conservative website Liberty Hangout.

Later that afternoon, tweets from the student newspaper The Oracle showed large crowds of protesters gathered around Bennett at MLK plaza, while she wore a pink “Baby Lives Matter” T-shirt and interviewed students about abortion. Other clips from the publication show students shouting “Black Lives Matter,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “This is where your tuition goes,” as USF police officers keep crowds back. 

Videos shared to social also show Tampa Police Department's bicycle squad separating student protesters from Bennett. 

At one point, students could be heard chanting "Shit your pants," in reference to a rumor that Bennett once pooped herself at a frat party. 

A USF student told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, that Bennett was also filming “a montage of college students wishing Trump a speedy recovery.” 

Adam Freeman, Director of Media Relations for USF, told CL that the school was informed yesterday that she may be visiting campus Wednesday. 

“The campus is an open public forum,” said Freeman. “USF values the right to free speech, but what’s important to us here is that those who visit our campus follow requirements for COVID-19 and maintain social distancing.” Freeman says the school informed Bennett of the COVID-19 rules before she arrived. 

In multiple videos posted to social media, Bennett appears to be incorrectly wearing a mask that says "Worn by force not by fear." 

Last month, Bennett caused a significant uproar after she visited University of Central Florida and reportedly violated the school’s social distancing policies by not wearing a mask. The visit resulted in a protest from progressive groups, as well. 

Bennett later claimed on Twitter that “left-wing terrorists” attacked her then called on Trump to “#DefundUCF & any other university that lets domestic terrorists shut down free speech.” 

The school later clarified that Bennett was welcome to express her opinions on campus, but that she also needs to comply with UCF’s COVID-19 policy. 

“The group on campus today was lawfully expressing their free expression rights but not complying with UCF’s COVID-19 policy, which requires everyone on campus to wear a face covering,” the university tweeted.

While Bennett's visit to USF on Wednesday attracted large crowds, the event wrapped up with little incident. USF Police confirmed that Bennett and her team of bodyguards left campus at around 4 p.m. 

For the past few years Bennett has focused primarily on attempting to bait students at public universities into saying something provocative for her self-described “Libertarian media outlet,” and then, of course, selectively editing the clips. Unsurprisingly, she’s been able to make a career out of this, even when it goes terribly wrong

But besides bad faith interviews designed to make students look like "liberal whackos," Bennett is also known for her viral graduation photo showing her carrying an AR-10 assault rifle at Kent State University, contributing to far-right conspiracy site InfoWars, and also organizing the now infamous TPUSA “diaper incident,” where members wore diapers to protest safe spaces on college campuses.

Bennett’s website Liberty Hangout has also been criticized for anti-Semitic Twitter posts, as well as full-blown Holocaust denial.

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter. Follow Creative Loafing Tampa Bay on Google News, too.

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
Scroll to read more Tampa Bay News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.