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OU Students Protest Against Arrival of Kent State “Gun Girl”

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  • Kaitlin Bennett, known on the internet as the Kent State Gun Girl, was met by crowds of protesters on Monday when she went to Ohio Unversity’s campus to make a video.
  • Students chanted at her to leave and threw toilet paper at her.
  • According to campus police, water was splashed at her but no arrests were made and no violence broke out. Bennett, however, claims hot coffee was poured on her and said her colleague’s car was vandalized.
  • Bennett eventually left campus but vows to come back. The situation started a large conversation online, with some defending protesters, and some accusing them of bullying.

Bennett Goes to Ohio University

Kaitlin Bennet, known to many on the Internet as the Kent State Gun Girl, was met by crowds of student protesters on Monday when she arrived at Ohio University’s campus.

Bennett, a well-known conservative gun-rights activist, came to the school with the intent to film a video asking students trivia questions about President’s Day. In protest of her presence at the school, students chanted for her to leave and threw toilet paper at her. 

Since her graduation photos depicting her holding a rifle on Kent State University’s campus went viral in 2018, Bennett has been a contentious figure online. She currently makes videos for Liberty Hangout, a controversial Libertarian media outlet. In them, she asks people on the street about hot-button issues like abortion, gender-inclusive bathrooms, and gun rights. With the viral attention these videos often receive also comes criticism and mockery from Twitter users.

Videos shared online of her arrival at Ohio University show students yelling things like “no one likes you” and “where’s your diaper.” The latter is a reference to a likely false online rumor that Bennett once soiled herself at a party.

Many students surrounded Bennett, phones in hand, as she made her way through the school. Bennett posted a video that she took from the inside of a car as she was leaving. In it, students are throwing liquids at the vehicle and blocking it from moving.

“This is what happens when a Trump supporter goes to a college campus,” she wrote before accusing the students of starting a riot, and suggesting that President Donald Trump revoke public funding from the school.

Statements by Bennett and Ohio University Police

According to a statement from Ohio University’s Police Department, no arrests were made and no one was asked to leave the scene aside from moving people to clear public paths. They wrote that Bennett “engaged in Constitutionally protected activity.”

“She drew a large crowd of people, many with opposing viewpoints, who also chose to exercise their first amendment rights,” the statement added.

According to the statement, Bennett did not notify them of her visit. While this is not mandatory, they say it would have helped their staffing levels. The police also rejected her claim that a “riot” took place. 

“Contrary to allegations circulating on social media, the incident did not rise to the level of a riot,” the school’s police wrote. “There was strong language, and allegations of some unknown person[s] in the crowd splashed water, but there were no reported injuries or violence and no one was arrested during the event.”

Bennett, however, was not pleased with the police’s response and claimed hot coffee was dumped on her and that her colleague’s car was vandalized. 

She vowed to return to the school at a later date with “an army of gun owners for an open carry walk through campus.”

On Tuesday, she claimed there were high-level credible threats against her. 

Online Reactions

The incident sparked a large conversation online, with some appalled by the behavior of the protesters at Ohio University. One alumnus said it made them “sick.”

Blaze TV correspondent Elijah Schaffer said fighting against people who disagree with you politically is not the answer.

Conservative actor and producer James Woods called it a display of mob mentality from Democrats. 

Some also encouraged Bennett to still raise her voice, even if people were standing against her. 

On the other side, some thought these protests were exactly what Bennett expected and perhaps even hoped for. One Ohio University student told Athens News that it felt like Bennett “just came here to get this reaction.”

One Twitter user said that “this is the attention [Bennett] ordered.”

Others pointed to her past transphobic and homophobic comments, as well as controversial stances made in the past by Liberty Hangout. They believed these ideas should be met with dissent.

Others believed that it was hypocritical for conservatives to be upset that Bennett was being bullied because Trump is accused of bullying on a regular basis. 

Bennett trended on Twitter Tuesday morning, with many posting memes and jokes about the situation. Some responded to this trend by noting that while they do not see eye to eye with Bennett, attacking her only fuels the fire for her. 

Others thought something should be done about the tweets making fun of her, as it could be seen as a violation of Twitter’s policy. 

Bennett’s name was still a top trending topic by Tuesday afternoon. She has not announced a specific date for her potential return to the Ohio school.

See what others are saying: (Athens News) (USA Today) (Cleveland.com)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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