By Selene San Felice
The misogynist “men’s rights activist” organization, Return of Kings, will hold a meeting in Tampa that will start with a gathering at Curtis Hixon Park on Saturday, Feb. 6 between 8 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Due to the proximity of the meeting to campus, students should be aware that a large gathering of pro-rape extremists will be in the area.
The organization’s leader, Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, has written articles expressing his desire to “make rape legal if done on private property.” The Return of Kings site contains numerous pro-rape and anti-feminist articles,including “‘Rape Culture’ Was Manufactured To Wage An Unjust War Against Men,” “Women Should Not Be Allowed To Vote,” and “The Intellectual Inferiority Of Women.”
Valizadeh has also written several “bang books” and articles which instruct his followers on how to pick up women, especially American foreigners traveling overseas. In Bang Iceland, Valizadeh also details his alleged sexual assaults of women who were too drunk to consent or asleep.
There will also be meet-ups in Orlando and West Palm beach along with 162 others in cities around the US and 42 other countries all taking place simultaneously at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
According to the group’s website, members are instructed, “to identify your fellow tribesmen, ask the following question to a man you suspect is there for the meetup: “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” If you are asked this question, answer in the affirmative: “Yes, it’s right here.” The meeting will then move to an undisclosed location.
A moderator of the website, Donovan Sharpe, commented on the event listing, “Gentlemen, we could be at the ground floor of something that is going to change the world. I use hyperbole sparingly but this may very well be a watershed moment in World History.”
UPDATE (Feb. 3, 11:15 a.m.): Tampa Police Department is aware of the meeting and have stated, “We have no information that this group is doing anything more than holding a meeting. While offensive to most, we live in a country where people can have views that others don’t agree with. As long as there is no illegal activity in acting out those views, they are entitled and can voice those views. We are aware of it and doing what is needed to ensure public safety.”
UPDATE (Feb. 3, 12:30 p.m.): Dr. Linda W. Devine, Vice President for Operations and Planning for UT has stated that the school and Campus Safety are aware of the meeting and are in touch with the Tampa Police Department.
“The safety and well-being of our campus community is our highest priority,” Dr. Devine said. “At this point we have not broadly notified students. We are still assessing the situation and are unaware of any specific threat to campus or our students. From the little we know about this organization, it does not share our values as an institution. If any students plan to protest the organization, we will advise them to stay clear of the Curtis Hixon Park.”
UPDATE (Feb. 3, 3:54 p.m.): Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn released a statement on the meeting saying, “As a father of two girls and a Mayor of a city that has no room for this vile rhetoric, I’m disgusted that a group such as Return of Kings would congregate in Curtis Hixon. Their twisted logic and violent and vulgar behavior has no place in this world, let alone Tampa.”
A protest led by UT students is scheduled to begin at 6:45 in Vaughn Lobby on Saturday night and will move to Curtis Hixon at the time of the meeting.
UPDATE (Feb. 3, 8:18 p.m.): According to the Return of the Kings Website and Valizadeh’s twitter account the meetup has been canceled worldwide.
Selene San Felice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.