Mayor & Council Statement Regarding Friday, April 9, 2021 Incident:
Collegeville residents who study, live and work on the Ursinus College campus were the target of hate-filled verbal assaults by a group of people from Philadelphia on Friday, April 9, 2021. The group, led by Aden Rusfeldt, the leader at Key of David Christian Center, hurled insults at bystanders about women, LGBTQ, Catholics, Muslims and others. Rusfeldt is also associated with a group called Matthew 24 Ministries.
The group assembled on the Main Street sidewalk near the 6th Avenue traffic light, adjacent to the main campus. They lined up facing the campus and commenced their harassment, yelling, displaying offensive signs, using bullhorns and generally attempting to entice students to engage them. The group goes to colleges and universities around the area using the same tactics (see links to news articles from the past five years below). Although this is offensive, annoying, and frustrating, it is considered to be protected speech.
Collegeville police officers responded to a call to assist Ursinus campus safety in keeping the group separated from students. Since the group was confined to the sidewalk (they’re not allowed on UC’s private property), this was mostly about keeping students far enough away from the group to prevent altercations that might take place on the sidewalk, right next to Main Street where any interactions might spill out into the traffic on Main Street.
There were 60 to 100 people present, spread out in small groups, according to the Ursinus College Campus Safety Director. One arrest was made. As reported, a male student instructed by an officer to step away from the area, failed to do so. When directly ordered by the police officer to step aside, the student refused to do so. This led to his arrest, which he resisted. After the young man was in the police car, it is reported that he kicked the officer in the chest. He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault of a police officer.
Collegeville Borough Council is grateful to our police officers and the Ursinus security officers who were on the scene. They worked hard to keep the groups separated. In accordance with Collegeville Police Department policy, the incident is under investigation.
Concerns have been expressed about the fact that our officers were unmasked. Both officers have been fully vaccinated, and because they were in a situation that required clear communication with two groups, one of which was using bullhorns, they needed to be heard clearly. While Borough Council and the Mayor believe that masks are critical to containing the transmission of COVID-19, we also understand that this was a situation that required the officers to be understood in order to ensure the safety of our residents.
We are currently working with Ursinus College to determine next steps and will be working with the administration, students, police department and residents to allay concerns about safety in our community.
- Collegeville Mayor Wright-Riggins
- Collegeville Borough Council
General about Rusfeldt:
Shippensburg University 4/21:
Mercer County Community College:
University of Pennsylvania:
Borough council meets the 1st Wednesday of each month.
Borough of Collegeville
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