Students for Trump is calling on its young members to join the protest efforts.April 19, 2020, 1:42 AM7 min read
As protests against stay-at-home orders due to novel coronavirus break out around the country, Students for Trump, one of the main political groups backing President Donald Trump’s reelection, is calling on its young members to join the efforts.
During a virtual convention on Friday for Students for Trump, the college campus arm of Turning Point USA, the group’s founder Charlie Kirk urged members to launch a “peaceful rebellion against governors” in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.
Kirk, speaking to over 500 members of the conservative nonprofit organization geared at activating college students to reelect the president who tuned in to the event, derided governors like Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer for encroaching on their rights and urged them to join the protests around the country. The event was hosted on Zoom.
It’s not immediately clear if any protests have been organized due to Kirk’s comments.
“Peaceful is the operative word. Charlie is simply calling on Americans to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully push back against the arbitrary overreaches of certain governors who are prohibiting completely safe activities,” a spokesman for Kirk told ABC News in a statement. “Americans have patriotically and heroically unified to slow the spread, and now Charlie believes it’s time to let our political leaders know that it’s time to open the country back up.”
Kirk is a favorite of the president and appeared at the White House for a “Generation Next Summit” in 2018. He’s also routinely retweeted by the president, and recently wrote a book titled “The MAGA Doctrine.”
The Trump campaign declined to comment, but a senior official noted that the group isn’t a official coalition.
A day after his comments, Kirk appeared on a Trump campaign digital event Saturday night hosted by Lara Trump. He did not make the same call for protests.
Students for Trump serves a crucial role in the president’s youth vote effort, especially given the Trump campaign has not introduced its own student-focused coalition.
Two Trump campaign advisers, Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, and John Pence, the vice president’s nephew, appeared at the virtual convention following Kirk’s comments.
After first claiming to have “total” authority over the nation’s governors regarding reopening their states, the president said on Tuesday he’d be “authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening, and a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.”
Trump seemingly encouraged protesters in a string of tweets on Friday.
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The president took to Twitter in support of Michiganders, Minnesotans and Virginians protesting against restrictions, saying in separate all-caps tweets: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”; “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”; and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
Trump was asked about whether a protest in Wisconsin organized by White House economic adviser Stephen Moore is in opposition to his own guidance.
The president responded by saying there’s “a lot of injustice,” specifically going on to reference Virginia, where he said “they want to take your guns away,” though he didn’t explain how that was connected to coronavirus.
He said he is getting along “very nicely” with the governor of Michigan, but said she has said “all these crazy things.”
“I really believe somebody sitting in their boat in a lake should be OK. They shouldn’t arrest people,” Trump said. “Some of them are being unreasonable. I really believe that. They’re being unreasonable. But I think Virginia is a great case though, because they’re using this — they’re trying to take your guns away in Virginia.”
Kirk’s call to his young Students for Trump members comes as protests against stay-at-home orders continue to break out around the country, bringing hundreds of people out into the streets often disregarding social distancing guidelines, which the federal government has extended until April 30.
On Wednesday, thousands of flag-waving protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol honking and shouting their grievances over Whitmer’s orders keeping people at home and businesses closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Others, including some flashing signs supporting the president, gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.
Before calling on young Student for Trump members to protest amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kirk in late March penned an op-ed for Fox News calling coronavirus “deadly serious” and urging “Millennials and Gen Z” to “keep yourselves and others safe.”
“To college students, and all my fellow 20 somethings: Do better. Show some regard for the communities you call home. Consider the lives of those around you, those who raised you and love you. Their well-being may depend on the decisions you make today,” Kirk wrote.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.
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