Kent State left with $65K price tag for open carry rally

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KENT, Ohio -- The price tag for a gun rally at Kent State University late last month is costing the school tens of thousands of dollars. Hundreds of “open carry” advocates and counter demonstrators converged on the campus weekend before last, sparking a heated dialogue on gun rights.

There was a heavy police presence at Kent State University September 29, as demonstrators walked through campus to denounce open carry gun restrictions on college campuses. They were met with counter demonstrators and a massive number of state troopers and police officers.

"You had the wall of the people over here who were for the guns and a wall of police that, like, kept the counter protesters and the protesters apart from each other, so I guess it did what it needed to do," said one KSU student.

Tuesday, Kent State officials revealed the cost of the rally is about $65,000. The money was used to pay overtime, and for additional Kent State police officers and dispatchers. It includes supplies, transportation, communication systems and meals. The cost is only the amount incurred by the university and does not include money spent by outside police agencies or the Ohio State Highway Patrol that helped provide security.

"No matter if you're conservative or liberal, a life is still a life and if that means hiring people to, like, sit on the top of buildings or like a SWAT team, if that's what it means to protect somebody's life if they're in danger, then that's what that means," said another student.

"It's good that Kent State is upholding its mission to make sure that this is a safe campus and to do everything; that's a lot of money, but it's hard for me to put into perspective how much money it would cost to enforce that level of security," said another.

The university made clear that it did not endorse either group of demonstrators, but the KSU president said she had to keep everyone on campus safe.

"They had to have it, even though it was like a no-win situation," a KSU student said.

"I'm glad that they did it, so they spent that kind of money, but it was ridiculous that it had to be spent in the first place," responded another.

"The fact that we do have that history with the shooting of students, I don't feel like it was a bad decision," said a student.

The rally was organized by KSU graduate Kaitlin Bennett, but university officials say they will not charge her or anyone else because the rally was not affiliated with any school organization.

Bennett vows to return for another rally in the future.

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