Sarasota County officials filed charges on Friday alleging that a New College of Florida student spat on school trustee Christopher Rufo, a writer and commentator best known for his activism against critical race theory.
The altercation between Rufo and Catherine “Libby” Harrity occurred outside Gov. Ron DeSantis’ May 15 bill signing at the Sarasota public university. New College has been a focus of DeSantis’ drive to “recapture” the state’s higher education institutions this year after he appointed six new trustees, including Rufo, with a mandate to overhaul the traditionally progressive school with a “classically liberal” orientation.
Rufo tweeted about the charges late Friday, alleging “a mob of New College students surrounded me and screamed epithets.” Harrity, he wrote, “broke the police line and spat on me.”
Harrity said they were not aware of the charges until contacted by a Tampa Bay Times reporter Friday evening.
“Rufo has already done so much to harass and harm students on this campus,” Harrity said. The charges “are an attempt to punish me and are a scare tactic to silence and harass students.”
In a text message to the Times, Rufo said: “I believe that everyone has a right to express dissent and engage in peaceful protest. But as a society, we must draw a line at politically motivated violence, which has no place in our public universities.”
The charges had not yet been filed with the Sarasota County Clerk as of Friday evening, but were confirmed by Brian Chambers, county court chief for Sarasota.
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