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Hundreds protest controversial conservative speaker at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind (WISH) — Hundreds of protesters on Thursday evening jammed into the Purdue Memorial Union where Michael Knowles was giving a speech.

Knowles is a commentator for the conservative website The Daily Wire. Knowles called for the “eradication of transgenderism” while speaking March 6 at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“It’s really good and affirming to see how many people are coming out here to support our trans community, and to show solidarity and basically protest the administration, we need a lot of numbers to show that we are pissed off at how they are spending out tuition dollars,” said Purdue Sophomore Ben O’Brien.

Knowles was invited to speak by the Purdue College Republicans. The university told News 8 that Knowles does not represent its viewpoints.

“At the end of the day the only free speech that the university actually cares about is the conservative, sex negative, anti-queer free speech,” said O’Brien.

The speech by Knowles was free, but those who attended needed a ticket to get inside. Ethan Lawver was among them.

“As a Catholic and a conservative, there’s not a particular topic I think he needs to address, but I am just excited to hear whatever he feels needs to be the main point of his speech,” said Lawver.

Lawver told News 8 after the speech that Knowles told the crowd people needed to be more tolerant of different ideologies.