On February 14th, 2018 at the University of Rhode Island Kingston campus, outside the Memorial Union, two members of Turning Point USA were displaying a “free speech ball” with which students passing by could express any of their thoughts in celebration of the presumed rights all Americans hold. The two men were trying to recruit passersby into Turning Point USA, a youth non-profit that seeks to promote the benefits of capitalism by supporting conservative politicians, organizing speaking events, and building a base of student activists to promote the free market.

But things aren’t always what they seem.

Turning Point USA is known for organizing events where the likes of alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos spout their racist, xenophobic rhetoric. In addition, TPUSA is responsible for the Professor Watchlist, which targets and harasses academics (such as the University of Rhode Island’s own Erik Loomis) for supposedly leftist or anti-American sentiment, hearkening back to McCarthy Era tactics. The TPUSA president, Charlie Kirk, is merely a lackey for the captains of industry in the higher echelons of the American capitalist class and far-right movement, all the way up to the Koch brothers and Donald Trump himself. The fact that the University of Rhode Island allowed such a group to try and recruit students is unsurprising, but nevertheless concerning.

However, the Rhode Island Student Union Project (RISUP) felt it necessary to state that we won’t buy into their farce, and neither will the students at the University of Rhode Island. The so-called “benefits of free market capitalism” TPUSA refers to are the exploitation and oppression of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups. Since the inception of the United States of America, marginalized peoples have been abused by this racist, imperialist, economic machine. We know for a fact that when TPUSA acts to protect “free speech” they are not referring to those who speak up and act up against misogyny, racist police violence, and transphobia. Rather, Turning Point USA seeks to protect neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon. Part of RISUP’s goals of free tuition, higher wages for all campus workers (especially students), and more student power in decision-making across the college and university system is anathema to the capitalist principles TPUSA vehemently supports.

Let this be a warning to all members of Turning Point USA attempting to establish themselves at the University of Rhode Island:

We’re watching you. Every move you make at the University of Rhode Island will be directly opposed. You cannot hide under your thin veil of love for “the free-market of ideas” to conceal your ties to the Neo-Nazi movement and blatant racist rhetoric espoused by your directors and organizers. You are not welcome here and we will see to it that you are challenged by any means necessary.

To students and others on campus who oppose what TPUSA stands for, please join us for an open meeting to figure out how to combat the influence of white supremacy and the alt-right on campus later this week on Thursday at 2pm at 193 Coffeehouse.

For further reading on TPUSA:

Campus Anti-Fascist Network Statement in Support of Tariq Khan

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Matthew Boedy (@MatthewBoedy)

You can also add my fact checks of Charlie Kirk to your list of resources. I am listed on the watchlist. See here https://medium.com/@mboedy