PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Congressman Tim Murphy cited a lack of additional security and protestors as the reasons for canceling his speaking engagement at Duquesne University on Tuesday. However, Duquesne University officials say they were fully prepared to host the event.
Rep. Murphy, a Republican of Upper St. Clair, was scheduled to discuss his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, but his office canceled the appearance.
Rep. Murphy told the "KDKA Morning News" he planned to talk to a psychology class at Duquesne University. However, he claimed the university said they wouldn't be able to provide appropriate security.
Murphy said well-organized protesters, who were not students of Duquesne, were planning to "crash it."
Murphy said Duquesne University sent him a note Monday evening that the university couldn't provide additional security on such short notice.
"I'm [at Duquesne] to talk to a class of psychology students; this has now gotten out of hand, let's just reschedule this for another day, so that's what happened...and of course the organization continues to say things otherwise because their goal is to dupe the media into believing otherwise and to maintain the narrative that we're not talking to [constituents], which is simply not true," says Murphy.
A spokeswoman from Duquesne University tells KDKA this was not an issue about safety, but rather, how disruptions would be handled. Dozens of social media posts and phone calls indicated there could be protestors at the event.
According to Duquesne University the following is the timeline of what happened:
- We had heard through social media that some individuals not associated with campus might be attending and asking questions unrelated to the topic of the congressman's remarks. As a courtesy, we informed the congressman's office of this possibility, as we would do for any guest speaker. At that time, we also indicated that we had not originally planned on having extra security for this event. We indicated we would explore getting additional police personnel to be present at the event.
- [Tuesday] morning at 9:34, we informed the congressman's office that the Duquesne Department of Public Safety was able to rearrange our police force schedules to ensure there would be extra officers at the event, should they be needed due to any possible disruptions.
- The congressman's office informed us at 11:47 that they were postponing the event.
- At all times Duquesne University was prepared to go forward with the event and to provide security, if the congressman's office deemed it appropriate.
Murphy adds a Washington County labor union lied to people and said he would be at a town hall on Tuesday. The Congressman says protests at town halls across the country are well-planned, and some organizers are paid.
He says phone calls to his office are disrupting the work he's trying to do.
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