Wisconsin College Cancels Vice President Pence’s Speech Due To ‘Escalating Events’ In Kenosha

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A private Wisconsin college near Kenosha is cancelling plans to have Vice President Mike Pence speak at a commencement ceremony due to the “escalating events” in Kenosha, the Associated Press reported.

Wisconsin Lutheran College, which is private, is located roughly 40 miles away from Kenosha in Milwaukee, and Pence was scheduled to deliver an address this weekend, which follows the violent riots in Kenosha that erupted Sunday after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, according to the AP.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 25: An aerial view shot with a drone shows cars destroyed by fire at a used car lot following another night of unrest on August 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rioting as well as clashes between police and protesters began Sunday night after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in the back in front of his three children. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“After further review with careful consideration of the escalating events in Kenosha,” the college announced its decision to cancel the speech Thursday. 

Instead of Pence, Rev. Mark Jeske of St. Marcus Lutheran Church will speak instead.

“Vice President Pence understands and supports Wisconsin Lutheran College’s decision to prioritize the safety and well-being of their students, and wishes the students well as they celebrate the accomplishment of graduating from college and as they embark on their next journey,” said Devin M. O’Malley, Pence’s spokesman, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

More than 230 students and alumni signed an open letter calling the invitation “blatantly inappropriate” although the college said the selection of Pence as a speaker was not an endorsement of a political party, and cannot be viewed as a political event. 

“The mere invitation of a Vice President of an incredibly divisive and controversial ticket to speak in a swing state months before an election is ignorant and deceptive,” the letter said. “Speaking to young adults months before an election is a political move and not one that WLC can decide is apolitical.”

KENOSHA, WI – AUGUST 24: Cars are set on fire in a used car lot on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the second night of rioting after the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on August 23. Blake was shot multiple times in the back by Wisconsin police officers after attempting to enter into the drivers side of a vehicle. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The visit to Wisconsin would have come days after the Republican National Convention, where unrest in Kenosha was mentioned.

“Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha,” Pence said at the convention. “Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”

Three people have been shot, and two killed in Kenosha since the rioting began, and numerous businesses and other property have been vandalized and set ablaze.