MAGA-happy student organization Turning Point USA has removed the leader of their University of Nevada, Las Vegas chapter, after a viral video surfaced showing him declaring “white power” while his friend screamed racist slurs.
In the video, the student, identified as Riley Grisar, hugs a woman in bed while making the “OK sign” with his hand and says “white power.” In recent years, the alt-right has appropriated that gesture to symbolize white power.
“We’re going to rule the country,” the woman says in the video. “Fuck the n-----s.” "Fuck ‘em all,” adds an unidentified male recording the video and flipping off the camera.
Turning Point said in a statement Thursday night that Grisar was ousted as soon as the group became aware of the video. “His comments were abhorrent, un-American, and disqualifying,” Turning Point said. “TPUSA has a zero-tolerance policy for hate.”
The incident is just the latest to tarnish the reputation of Turning Point USA, which is known for its slogan “Socialism Sucks,” rejection of “PC culture,” and cozy relationship with the White House. The group was founded in 2012 by conservative firebrand Charlie Kirk and has since ballooned into a national grassroots movement with more than 1,000 chapters at high schools and colleges across the country.
In March, a student at Iowa State University who claimed to be the head of the school’s Turning Point USA invited a prominent white nationalist to speak at a school event. But a spokesperson for Turning Point said there was no recognized chapter at Iowa State and claimed that “unaffiliated students used the Turning Point brand without our knowledge.”
In October 2018, Miami-New Times obtained leaked group chats from Turning Point’s Florida International University chapter, which showed members sharing racist memes, including one that showed Syrian men raping a white woman at gunpoint.
The New Yorker also obtained text messages from the former Turning Point field director (who resigned in 2016) to another member that read, "I hate black people. Like fuck them all… I hate blacks. End of story.”
The organization’s brash rhetoric and goal to “make conservatism cool again” has, at times, left its messaging vulnerable to appropriation by the alt-right and white nationalists. Leaked internal chats from the white nationalist group Identity Evropa (who have since rebranded to “American Identity Movement”) also showed members discussing ways to infiltrate Turning Point chapters, which they viewed as fertile grounds for recruitment.
But Turning Point — and Kirk — have tried, at least publicly, to make it clear that the group doesn’t tolerate racism or other problematic ideals.
When Kirk spoke at Colorado State University in February 2018, his appearance drew white nationalists who chanted neo-Nazi slogans. Kirk later tweeted that he “got heated after my speech today at Colorado State University.”
“Had ANTIFA, disgusting white-nationalists, and hundreds of protesters outside event” he continued.
Turning Point’s University of Nevada, Las Vegas chapter and Grisar made the news in late April after he claimed he was harassed by “leftist” students. Video obtained by Campus Reform shows several individuals flipping off Turning Point members and calling them racist. Grisar also said that “leftists” tore down his “Build the Wall” sign and swiped the contents of Turning Point’s table to the ground.
Cover image: Screenshot from video