Gerard Dabu is a University of Missouri-Kansas City student charged with assault at an event featuring conservative commentator Michael Knowles Thursday.
Dabu, 23, was charged with assault destruction of property, and disturbing schools of other lawful assemblies, KSHB reported.
Police say Dabu sprayed an “unknown chemical substance from a water gun” at two university police officers, causing “burns to their body.”
The university said in an email that “tests later revealed the substance (sprayed) to be lavender oil and some other non-toxic household liquids.”
UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal added that the controversial opinions espoused by Knowles “do not align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our goal of providing a welcoming environment to all people, particularly to our LGBT community.”
Knowles was speaking at an event hosted by the school’s Young Republicans titled “Men Are Not Women.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gerard Dabu Sprayed ‘Chemical Substance’ at University Police
Dabu was arrested Thursday after interrupting an event hosted by the college’s Young Republicans featuring Knowles.
“The protest turned disruptive and after several warnings, the disruption persisted, and one protester was arrested,” UMKC said in a statement to KSHB.
“A student tried to squirt bleach on me during my speech tonight. Lucky for me we was a left-winger and couldn’t even shoot a squirt gun!” Knowles tweeted.
KSHB reported Friday that Dabu was charged with assault, destruction of property, and disturbing schools of other lawful assemblies.
The university told the outlet that Dabu sprayed an “unknown chemical substance from a water gun” at two university police officers “causing burns to their body.”
The university later said that “tests later revealed the substance (sprayed) to be lavender oil and some other non-toxic household liquids.”
2. Dabu Was Protesting an Appearance by Conservative Commentator Michael Knowles
Dabu’s arrest came amid a larger student protest against Knowles’ appearance.
UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal praised the peaceful protesters while acknowledging Knowles’ right to free speech.
“UMKC must maintain a safe environment in which all points of view, even extreme ones, are allowed to be heard,” Agrawal said in an email, according to KSHB.
3. University Says Dabu ‘Crossed a Line’
While Agrawal praised the peaceful protesters, he wrote that “some crossed the line,” without mentioning Dabu by name.
“The evening’s events (Thursday) laid bare deep divisions that exist in our society today — divisions that UMKC works diligently to address through education, support and commitment to our values,” he said in a statement.
The school has launched a separate disciplinary investigation, Agrawal said.
4. College Chancellor Says Michael Knowles’ Opinions ‘Do Not Align’ With School’s Values
Agrawal said that the school is committed to protecting free speech even when the opinions expressed are “controversial and unpopular.”
Agrawal reiterated an “absolute commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and the equal rights of members of the LGBTQ community” as the main takeaways from the incident.
Agrawal added that Knowles’ “professed opinions do not align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our goal of providing a welcoming environment to all people, particularly to our LGBT community.”
5. Michael Knowles Complains He Is Being ‘Smeared’ by the University
Knowles tweeted that instead of receiving an apology from the school, Agrawal sent a statement condemning his views.
At least the University of Missouri-Kansas City apologized for the physical assault and relentless shouting I endured last night as an invited speaker on campus,” he wrote. “JUST KIDDING! The Chancellor of the university just sent out an email baselessly smearing me as a bigot.”
He also complained about the media coverage of the event, citing a Kansas City Star report that called him a “D-List conservative.”
“I was invited to give a lecture. A group of activists shouted throughout, then one assaulted me with an unknown odorous liquid, which luckily wasn’t the noxious chemical it was intended to resemble,” he wrote. “Then the @KCStar attacked me and defended the assailant.”