Wednesday’s appearance of conservative speaker Candace Owens in Buffalo, originally advertised to be at UB’s Center for Tomorrow, was moved off campus to Dick Road in Depew, New York.
Owens will appear at The Grapevine Banquets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event was promoted by UB’s chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative student organization, as part of TPUSA’s nationwide “Live Free Tour.”
Owens is a nationally-known political commentator, with over 4 million followers on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. She founded the “BLEXIT” movement, encouraging Black people to leave the Democratic party, has been endorsed and reposted by Kanye West and former President Donald Trump, and travels around the country to speak at conservative events and fundraisers. In 2018, NBC News called her “The loudest voice on the far right.”
The venue change was announced on UB’s TPUSA Instagram account earlier this week. The post cited “concerns” about “ticket restrictions. ” The new venue was kept secret until Wednesday morning, when ticket holders received a text or email with the location.
The Spectrum spoke with TPUSA members promoting the event in the Student Union, who said that the venue was changed to prevent disruptions from opposition. In past semesters, student groups hosted conservative speakers like Michael Knowles, Riley Gaines and Allen West, drawing protests on campus. Michael Knowles’ appearance last semester resulted in one protester arrest.
Protests were originally planned for Owens’ on-campus appearance, and some protesters are still planning to attend the event on Dick Road.
No Hate at Buffalo, a student group that has mobilized against controversial, conservative speakers in the past, organized a sign-making event and carpool strategy for Wednesday night’s event.
Jacob L., who asked to abbreviate his last name because of doxxing concerns, is a student that helped organize the opposition to Owens. He said that No Hate at Buffalo is protesting in response to Owens’ “harmful rhetoric” that “has a tangible effect.” He referenced the New Zealand Christchurch mosque mass shooting in 2019; one of the shooters said that Owens influenced his ideology.
“We are [protesting] Candace Owens’ stance on white supremacy not being a tangible threat, her stance that climate change is not a legitimate concern, that the COVID vaccine is dangerous,” Jacob L. said. “We just want students and community members to know that there are people that will fight for them.”
Owens’ speech began at 6:30 p.m. at 333 Dick Rd. in Depew. Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. for those who reserved tickets.
Ryan Tantalo is the managing editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Ryan Tantalo is the managing editor of The Spectrum. He previously served as senior sports editor. Outside of the newsroom, Ryan spends his time announcing college hockey games, golfing, skiing and reading.