Organizers cancel open-carry rally after university issues $14K security bill, campus walk to take place instead


Demonstrators stand together in support of the second amendment and gun rights on Friday, April 27.

An anticipated open-carry rally on Kent State’s main campus September 29 will now be an open-carry walk, said Kent State alumna Kaitlin Bennett.

The decision came three days after the university sent an invoice for $14,000 to conservative political organization Liberty Hangout, the event’s on-campus sponsor. The group registered the march after an initial attempt by Bennett to hold it without sponsorship failed.

The document also contained a security assessment of the march, outlined the costs associated with the security and set restrictions for the rally.

It banned a long list of items from the event, including masks, water bottles, water balloons, torches and shields, among others.

The charge to Liberty Hangout came primarily from the anticipated cost of 30 police officers for seven hours, even though the rally was scheduled for three hours.

The organization was also billed for barriers, two paramedics and a fire marshal. The assessment capped the number of people allowed on Risman Plaza at 200.

The invoice lists the speakers who were scheduled to appear at the rally, including Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer. Gibson organized a rally in Portland, Oregon, in July that turned into a riot and sent five people to the hospital.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Patriot Prayer as a far-right group.

Also included on the list were Kendall Arroyo, an open-carry activist who recently held an event on Ohio State’s campus, and Justin Stein, the director of communications at Gun Owners of America, a gun lobby in Washington, D.C.

Liberty Hangout protested the invoice amount on its website, calling it “egregiously overpriced and unacceptable.”

The university said the group had until 5 p.m. September 17 to decide whether it would accept the charges and go through with the event. As of the deadline, the university said it hadn’t heard anything.

“We have not yet received an official response from this student organization, so we cannot comment at this time,” said Eric Mansfield, the executive director of university media relations.

Prior to the invoice, the university issued a “cease and desist” letter to Bennett to stop advertising the event on social media.

Bennett said the planned speakers will not speak at the walk, but will participate. She also told KentWired the decision was made to maintain the original purpose of the event.

“I also feel like the message about campus carry has been lost due to all the chaos with speakers and policy,” Bennett said. “So we are doing away with that and maintaining the integrity of the event.”

According to the event’s Facebook page, Bennett will be walking with friends to create dialogue about campus carry.

Brandon Bounds is the TV2 enterprise producer. Contact him at [email protected].

Laina Yost is the KentWired enterprise editor. Contact her at [email protected].