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Turning Point USA holding event at ASU this month

By: - March 14, 2019 3:41 pm

Charlie Kirk speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Turning Point USA, the controversial conservative grassroots network for college and high school students, will be holding an event at Arizona State University next week.

The organization is known for going after colleges for practices it feels support liberal ideology and suppress conservative ideas.

The event, dubbed “Campus Clash,” will feature TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, Director of Communications Candace Owens, Diversity Director Brandon Tatum, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv and conservative talk show personality Graham Allen.

ASU is the first stop on the tour, which includes the University of South Carolina, Louisiana State University, University of Mississippi and more.

Tickets to the event are free, though VIP tickets that guarantee a seat are available for $50.

Last year, the organization hosted similar events, some of which were met with protesters.

The group comes to Arizona with a rather large amount of baggage.

TPUSA has been linked to white supremacist groups, has had staffers fired for racist behavior and almost had their nonprofit status revoked after it was revealed that Kirk and others within the organization had been actively working with the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Then in 2016, Kirk took part in a Fox News event alongside Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Lara Trump at which students who attended allegedly had their expenses covered, leading some to call for the organization’s tax exempt status to be revoked.

Trump Jr. wrote the forward to Kirk’s book, “Campus Battlefield.”

More recently, chat logs released by the nonprofit news group Unicorn Riot showed that white supremacist group Identity Ervopa used Turning Point USA as a recruitment tool, and even used the nonprofit as a front for some of its activities.  

One message in the leaked Discord chats shows a member stating his “ultimate goal” is to subvert his school’s Turning Point USA chapter “into a front” for Identity Evropa.

A review of the chat logs by the Arizona Mirror found references to Arizona State University.

unicorn riot
Screenshot from leaked chat conversations between members of the white supremacist group Identity Ervopa.

Many of the postings found referenced Identity Evropa flyers posted in August 2017 around ASU’s campuses.

Another chat stated that the head of the Arizona branch of the Nationalist Socialist Movement works with local police to steal drugs.

unicorn riot
Screenshot from leaked chat conversations between members of the white supremacist group Identity Ervopa.

Kirk has said TPUSA rejects Identity Evropa.

“Groups like this borrow mainstream political language, mix it with hate, in order to confuse students who are maybe unaware of their intentions,” Kirk said to VICE News this week. “It’s a moving target, but one TPUSA is committed to identifying and calling out when it’s brought to our attention. “

The organization has more connections to other hate groups, however.

A member of the hate group the Proud Boys who worked alongside Roger Stone was found to have ties to TPUSA.

Speakers at the ASU event are not free from controversy, either.

Candace Owens was roundly criticized in 2016 when she tried to launch a website that aimed to address cyberbullying by doxxing, or releasing personal information, on those found to be cyberbullies.

In 2018, Owens perpetuated a conspiracy theory that bombs that were being sent to media and Democratic politicians were being sent by liberals in order to incite anger at conservatives. After the arrest of Cesar Sayoc Jr., she promptly deleted the tweets and never explained why.

Tatum, a former Tucson Police Officer, gained notoriety in 2017 when his online rants went viral, leaving some to question if what he was saying fit within his employers’ code of conduct.

The event will be held at ASU’s Memorial Union in Tempe at 7 p.m.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.