Local Anti-Islam Activist Plans Protest of College Lecture Series

(Gillette, Wyo.) A popular series of talks from area educators is drawing some negative attention. The Wyoming Humanities Council, in conjunction with the University of Wyoming, offers a free college education program six times a year called Saturday University. They present the public with talks from a variety of professors twice a year in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan. Tomorrow night's presentation will be the first one of 2016, and the second one since November in Gillette. Saturday University generally happens on Saturdays, but since so many Gillette residents are out of town on the weekends, UW has started having them here on Thursday nights. Topics range from art and poetry, to climatology in the West, and migration of elk and moose. "We have smart people talk to people who are eager to learn," said Wyoming Humanities Council director Shannon Smith. "The faculty feels it's important now more than ever to do the work they do, to have these kinds of conversations, not just in Gillette, but all around the state." She's referring to Thursday night's program, which includes two lectures from UW representatives. One is Nam Le, who authored "The Boat" in 2008. It's a collection of stories about the refugee experience, which has earned him half a dozen literary awards since its publication. The other UW presenter is Marianne Kamp, history professor at the University, who has published on many topics, most of them related to women in history. (A third presenter, John McGuire, is from Gillette College and will be speaking about Russian culture.) For eight minutes, Bret Colvin of the "Wyoming Resistance Front" podcast reveals how he saw a poster for the Saturday University event, and appears to be upset by it. In his preamble to talking about the presentation, Mr. Colvin made demeaning comments about Muslim women, while accusing Muslims of being pedophiles. He concluded by inciting Gillette residents to help him "run the ragheads out of town" at Thursday night's event. He has made previous efforts to protest local Muslims, including confronting local mosque-goers last November, during Friday prayer. Colvin demonstrates the sort of misconceptions that Kamp hopes to dispel in her talk "Muslim Women: Breaking Down Stereotypes," which will take a look at women's contributions to Islam. "Mr. Colvin represents the fear of 'the other', and the need find a scapegoat for problems around the state," Smith told Pitchengine. "We just want to bring in thoughtful programs that help people open their minds to other ideas and views." The Humanities Council is concerned with safety, not just for their staff, but for others who will be in attendance at the event, including Mayor Louise Carter-King. The mayor's office has contacted local police and are confident everything will go smoothly. It should be noted that the Saturday University program is not the only thing happening at the Campbell County Library Thursday night: That is the night that the library's most popular teen gathering, Anime Club, will be meeting downstairs, as well as a "Families and Jammies" event for parents with infants and children up to the 6th grade. This is who will be coming and going from the building as Colvin hopes to "f*** some Muslim s*** up." #county17 #news -- *Brenda Kirk* Community Maven for | 614.940.7121 Twitter | Instagram | Facebook PitchEngine™ | *Connecting Communities* | Twitter | Facebook