OSU, Police Threaten to Arrest Turning Point USA Students Over “Save the Crop-Top” Petition. Kirk: “Is Free Speech Dead on Campus?”
Two Ohio State University (OSU) students and two Turning Point USA staff members say were threatened to be arrested by a Franklin County deputy and a self-identified “campus attorney” this week while they were petitioning on campus.
The four activists were running a “Save the Crop-Top” petition as part of Turning Point USA’s Free Speech Week.
Brandon Ginley, one of the OSU students petitioning on campus, said they were “stopped by a Franklin County Deputy Sheriff claiming he was with the University office of policy and copyright.”
“The officer very forcefully told us me must stop our petition even though we are a student organization and were petitioning on public property. I fully believe our First Amendment rights were completely violated,” Ginley said.
The “Save the Crop-Top”movement at OSU was started after the NCAA recently stopped running back Ezekiel Elliot from wearing a crop-top style jersey, after Elliot made it famous during last year’s national championship game.
Elliot tweeted out a Change.org petition–which now has nearly 12,000 signatures–and inspired students to use their free speech rights on campus to continue the movement.
Turning Point USA staff members Matt Masucci and Thomas Hern were with the petitioning students and agreed with their account of the events.
Masucci said they were “walking around the Ohio State football tailgates getting signatures for our “Save the Crop-Top” petition. We were stopped by a police officer, who said at first that we were violating trademark laws, after a minute or so of debate we were told that it actually wasn’t the trademark laws we were supposedly violating, but rather the school’s canvassing policy.”
Turning Point USA reached out to OSU for a response, and they sent our staff to a link of their canvassing policy, which prohibits canvassing for “funds, sales, or subscriptions,” and the “sale of merchandise”–but says nothing about prohibiting petitioning and free speech.
And even if it did, Turning Point USA believes OSU would be violating the Constitution.
Charlie Kirk, the founder and Executive Director of Turning Point USA, said, “This is just another example of how free speech is dead on most campuses.”
“Even if you aren’t petitioning something political, some over-sensitive liberal administrator will stop you from reasonably exercising your First Amendment Rights,” Kirk said.
Kirk also pointed out that–despite multiple threats from liberal colleges in the last week–his group will continue to encourage students to petition and canvass their peers for causes they believe in.