06:34 GMT01 August 2021
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    A Facebook video featuring two Nevada college students declaring their support for “white power” and yelling racial slurs has gone viral. One of them heads a local chapter of conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA, which has disowned him and the contents of the video, although the group has a long record of supporting similar rhetoric.

    The video was found by left-wing publication Our Revolution Nevada and posted on Facebook Wednesday. In the video, a boy who's been identified as Riley Grisar, the president of the University of Nevada Las Vegas' chapter of Turning Point USA, is joined by a girl identified as Lily Saxton and an unseen cameraman in shouting white supremacist and racist slogans.

    "We're going to rule the country!" the teens say to the camera, followed by "White power! F**k the n*****s!" as they flash the "okay" hand sign, a symbol sometimes used by white supremacists.

    Turning Point USA, a conservative astroturf group that funds student associations on college campuses to promote right-leaning election candidates, disowned Grisar and denounced the ideas in the video in a Friday statement.

    "His comments were abhorrent, un-American and disqualifying" of membership in TPUSA, the group said, noting the local chapter had "acted quickly to remove the student from their chapter membership and involvement."

    "As any large organization should, TPUSA has a zero-tolerance policy for hate, no matter the medium or how dated the act or comment, and we hold our tens of thousands of students to the highest of standards," the statement continued.

    ​However, TP has a long history of encouraging discriminatory attitudes, even as it rushes to keep its public image clean.

    The group was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk, a then-18-year-old who counts as his friends Donald Trump Jr. and arch-conservative political commentator and former Donald Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka. The group aims to advance conservative politics on college campuses, which Kirk has called "islands of totalitarianism," as TP believes conservatives are the true victims of discrimination in America today.

    The group has maintained a "Professor Watchlist" since 2016, a running registry of liberal and left-wing college instructors who "discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom," as Kirk put it. Multiple professors who have appeared on the list have reported receiving threats from TPUSA, such as Harvard University political science professor Danielle Allen and Northern Arizona University English professor Anne Scott.

    Moreover, the group might be breaking the law by trying to influence elections. TP is registered as a 501(c)3 charity, a type of organization the US Internal Revenue Service strictly prohibits from engaging either directly or indirectly in political elections. However, it also doesn't have to name its donors, as a group like the liberal organization MoveOn does, which has parts of it registered as a super PAC and others as a 501(c)4 "social-welfare group," and to which TP often compares itself.

    TP's communications director, Candace Owens, has attracted significant criticism for blasting the Black Lives Matter movement and women who reported sexual misconduct under the #metoo hashtag as well as for her comments in December 2018 about Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, saying the genocidaire's primary fault was that "he had dreams outside of Germany" and had murdered his own people.

    Conservative political figure Milo Yiannopoulos has also partnered with the organization, appearing at a College Republicans event hosted by TP at the University of Colorado Boulder in early 2017. At that event, Yiannopoulos who is himself gay, voiced his hatred of "f*****s," lesbians, and feminists, who, he said, "f**king hate men." The following year, TP hosted another controversial figure, conservative author and political commentator Ann Coulter, at the same venue.

    Employees have also reported racial discrimination in the workplace at TP. Gabrielle Fequiere, who told the New Yorker that she was the only black female field director when she worked for the group in 2014, she heard many comments and conversations disparaging of black people and that she thought it was racist for her to be fired on Martin Luther King's birthday.

    "I felt very uncomfortable working there because I was black," Fequiere said. Kirk sharply denounced her statements, calling the allegations of racism absurd.

    The New Yorker reported in 2017 that Crystal Clanton, who served as TPUSA's national field director until the summer of 2017, had commented to another TP employee by text, saying "i hate black people. Like f**k them all. . . I hate blacks. End of story."

    Kirk had praised Clanton in a book he co-authored the previous year, saying she was "the best hire we ever could have made." The New Yorker notes Kirk called her "integral to the success of Turning Point while effectively serving as its chief operating officer" and said, "Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America."

    It seems odd TPUSA would describe Grisar's words as "abhorrent, un-American and disqualifying," then, since they represent the kinds of views the group tends to attract.


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    Nevada, Milo Yiannopoulos, Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Turning Point USA, group, white supremacy, viral video, symbols, conservative, racist slur, astroturfing
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