The White House correspondent for a prominent right-wing website was arrested Tuesday night after allegedly accosting a woman at the University of Connecticut.
Lucian Wintrich, the White House correspondent and Washington, DC, bureau chief for the Gateway Pundit, was at the university to deliver a speech titled "It's OK to Be White." The speech drew a large group of protesters, who verbally sparred with Wintrich, before the blogger moved into the audience and grabbed a woman.
In a statement Wednesday, he defended his actions as being reasonable in response to her actions.
"That woman stole my speech," Wintrich told BuzzFeed News. "I exercised reasonable and lawful action to regain it."
Wintrich and a University of Connecticut spokesperson, Stephanie Reitz, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he was arrested shortly before 9 p.m. and taken into custody by campus police. He was charged with breach of peace and later released on a a $1,000 nonsurety bond, Reitz said. A UConn student was also arrested for allegedly breaking a window as people left the event.
The apparent altercation was captured on video from multiple angles.
The woman appeared to have grabbed a paper from the podium where Wintrich was speaking.
After what appears to be a scuffle with the woman, video shows law enforcement escorting Wintrich out of the room with his hands behind his back.
In a post about Wintrich's arrest, the Gateway Pundit declared that a "far left mob" had shut down the event. An update to the post stated that Wintrich was "missing" and that "police took him away and we have NO IDEA where they are holding him!" The update was later removed.
The arrest came amid a raucous evening at the University of Connecticut. According to Fox 61, Wintrich's speech was met by boos and interruptions. Video from the scene shows the blogger drinking milk — which has been adopted as a symbol on the far right — while a crowd chants "go home, Nazi."
After Wintrich's removal, crowds continued to congregate at the scene, and journalists there reported seeing both broken windows and smoke canisters. Campus police later announced that they had arrested one person, University of Connecticut student Sean Miller, for allegedly breaking a window as people left the lecture hall, but are still investigating the origin of the smoke bomb.
"This was a very disappointing evening," University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst 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."
"We live in a tense and angry time of deep political division. Our hope as educators is that creative leadership and intellectual energy can be an antidote to that sickness, especially on university campuses," Herbst continued. "Between the offensive remarks by the speaker who also appeared to aggressively grab an audience member and the reckless vandalism that followed, that was certainly not the case on our campus tonight. We are better than this."
Founded in 2004, the Gateway Pundit gained popularity during the 2016 election for its far-right, pro-Trump content, and in February 2017 it was granted press credentials to cover the White House. An image shared by the Jim Hoft, the website's founder, shows him and Wintrich in the White House press room making a gesture popular among members of the alt-right. The site is also known for pushing far-right conspiracy theories, including the debunked idea that the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich was politically motivated.
In a series of tweets just after midnight Wednesday, Wintrich informed followers of his release. "IM FREE & regained my Twitter," he wrote.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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