Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
Turning Point USA is often associated with the time its members wore diapers in an attempt at “triggering” liberals, but this should not be the only public failure the group is remembered for. The conservative organization, which focuses on increasing right-wing political influence on college campuses, has a long history of involvement in racist incidents that are now permanently linked to its name.
TPUSA’s founder and executive director, Charlie Kirk, has repeatedly denied that his organization is racist, yet the incidents of blatant bigotry involving members of TPUSA keep happening, even as leaks show white nationalists plotting to infiltrate it. Kirk, the right-wing “boy wonder” who has used Fox News to turn fear-mongering about left-wing ideology on college campuses into a profitable grift, has also successfully leveraged his “perfectly incoherent” sycophancy for the Trump administration into a cozy relationship with the president’s family — a relationship seemingly unaffected by TPUSA’s pattern of racism.
Here are incidents of racism involving TPUSA:
- Former TPUSA National Field Director Crystal Clanton sent text messages to another TPUSA employee that said, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.” Kirk had previously said about Clanton: “Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America.”
- After firing Clanton when her racist text message became public, Kirk hired Shialee Grooman and Troy Meeker. HuffPost reported that Grooman had written several anti-gay and racist tweets that included the n-word and Meeker had also tweeted an anti-Black slur. HuffPost also reported that former TPUSA Midwest regional manager Timon Prax was pushed out because of his record of using “bigoted language in tweets and texts,” including racist jokes and messages that “made fun of black people and referred to them as slaves.”
- A former TPUSA field director recalled watching speakers at one of the organization’s annual student summits who “spoke badly about black women having all these babies out of wedlock. It was really offensive.” Speaking to The New Yorker in 2017, the former employee said that “looking back, I think it was racist.”
- TPUSA defended Florida Atlantic University professor and TPUSA chapter faculty adviser Marshall DeRosa after The Nation reported his ties to white nationalist group League of the South.
- In her resignation letter addressed to TPUSA field director Frankie O’Laughlin and regional manager Alana Mastrangelo following the group’s disastrous diaper protest, far-right Infowars personality Kaitlin Bennett pointed out that O’Laughlin had “liked” tweets from white supremacist YouTuber James Allsup.
- Kirk’s own Twitter feed has featured anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim tweets, and he once tweeted a flawed statistic that minimized police brutality against black people: “Fact: A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male, than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer.”
- At a December 2017 TPUSA conference, attendee Juan Pablo Andrade was recorded telling several other conference attendees, “The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going!”
- Members of the TPUSA chapter at Florida International University shared “racist memes and rape jokes” in the group’s chat messages. According to the Miami New Times, a prominent chapter member had to tell other TPUSA members to “avoid using the n word and don’t reference Richard Spencer too much and don’t Jew hate … all the time.”
- TPUSA Director of Urban Engagement Brandon Tatum told anti-Semitic YouTuber Bryan “Hotep Jesus” Sharpe that Sharpe was banned from TPUSA events because of “the optics of the anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Tatum summarized TPUSA’s position as being “between a rock and a hard place” because while “personally, none of us have a problem with you — we want you here. It’s the optics. The media.”
- TPUSA originally listed Gab, a white supremacist-friendly social media platform, as a sponsor for its 2018 Student Action Summit but “quietly dropped the company” shortly before the event.
- TPUSA’s Iowa State University chapter reportedly invited white nationalist YouTuber Nick Fuentes to speak on campus.
- Speaking at the December 11 launch of Turning Point UK, then-TPUSA Communications Director Candace Owens said, “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. … I have no problems with nationalism.”
- TPUSA Chief Creative Officer Benny Johnson kicked off a TPUSA event by saying, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen so many white people in one room. This is incredible!”
- Most recently Riley Grisar, president of TPUSA’s University of Nevada chapter, praised white supremacy, saying, “We’re going to rule the country! White power!” and using the n-word in a video uncovered by the anti-fascist website It’s Going Down News. Watch the video:
In viral video, leader of #LasVegas chapter of Turning Point USA seen giving Alt-Right "OK" sign while friend screams, "We're gonna run the world! White Power! Fuck N*****s!" Was seen giving same hand sign at recent "Build the Wall" rally. CW: Racial Slurs https://t.co/f0IwuCWAsR pic.twitter.com/qcQIFTzk8i
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) May 10, 2019