Conservative website’s correspondent arrested during speech at UConn

Lucian Wintrich
Lucian Wintrich, shown after his arrest Tuesday. —UConn police

A Washington correspondent for a provocative conservative website who spoke at the University of Connecticut in Storrs was arrested Tuesday night after he appeared to grab a woman who had taken papers off the lectern at which he had been speaking, officials said.

The correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, followed the woman who took the paperwork as she went back into the audience, and the altercation occurred as he tried to retrieve the papers, according to the university and video recordings of the event. He was eventually led out of the Andre Schenker Lecture Hall by the authorities.

Wintrich, 29, was charged with breach of the peace, a misdemeanor, and was released late Tuesday after posting $1,000 bond, said a university spokeswoman, Stephanie Reitz.

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In a tweet early Wednesday, Wintrich, who works for The Gateway Pundit, said it was “really unfortunate” that some UConn students “felt the need to be violent and disruptive.”

The confrontation happened near the end of a nearly hourlong speech — which The Associated Press said was titled “It’s OK To Be White” — during which people in the audience shouted and jeered.

As the crowd was leaving the lecture hall around 9 p.m., someone broke one of the lecture hall’s windows and a smoke bomb was thrown inside the hall, Reitz said. The bomb detonated and the person ran away, she said.

The police later arrested Sean Miller, 19, a UConn student, and charged him with breach of the peace and criminal mischief in connection with the broken window.

Reitz noted that Miller had not been charged in connection with the smoke bomb, which remained under investigation. Miller was also released after posting a $1,000 bond, she said.

The police interviewed the woman who had taken the papers off the lectern, but Reitz said no other arrests had been made Tuesday. It was not clear whether the woman was a student.

No injuries were reported in connection to the evening’s mayhem, she said. Additional charges or arrests could be forthcoming, she said.

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“This was a very disappointing evening,” Susan Herbst, UConn’s president, said in a statement. “Thoughtful, civil discourse should be a hallmark of democratic societies and American universities, and this evening fell well short of that.”

Wintrich had been invited to speak at an event organized and hosted by the UConn College Republicans club, Reitz said.

About 300 people attended. Some came from the surrounding community and were not students, Reitz said.

“It was a very active and loud discussion throughout the entire time,” Reitz said in a telephone interview. “There was a lot of heated emotion.”

UConn does not bar speakers on the basis of their content, she said. Any student group, she added, is free to reserve on-campus space for a speaker as long as the group’s event adheres to university guidelines.

Wintrich’s website gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health.

Wintrich, who has collaborated with Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative provocateur, was granted press credentials to attend White House news briefings this year.