Chicago public school high school administrators shot down an attempt by a right-wing group to form a chapter on the Northwest Side campus of an “organization promoting racial intolerance.”
Meanwhile, Chicago Police said they were investigating a social media post by a longtime CPD sergeant praising the students’ supposed efforts to create the group, Turning Point USA.
Taft High School principal Mark Grishaber said in a letter to the school community earlier this month that he was “disturbed” by efforts to start a Turning Point chapter in Taft. The right-wing organization is present in more than 2,500 high schools and college campuses nationwide, including high schools in New Trier and Niles West and other suburbs in the region, according to his website.
The organization was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk, a staunch supporter of Trump who considers critical race theory and the concept of white privilege is racist against white people. The group’s key tenets, he says, are rooted in capitalism, the US Constitution and that the United States is the “greatest country in the history of the world.” Kirk grew up in the northern Chicago suburbs and attended Wheeling High School.
Grishaber said in his memo that the group does not support diversity and inclusion and contradicts the school’s mission statement to “educate the citizens of the world to create a better world.”
âKnow that the staff and administration of Taft will never tolerate the formation of a group that does not support these values,â Grishaber wrote. âOur diversity is our strength and we are proud to celebrate it in our classrooms and school organizations. “
At a local Taft school council meeting on Tuesday evening, Grishaber said the student interested in starting the group had never completed an official request to start the group.
In public comments at the end of the meeting, one person who spoke through Google Meets and identified himself as Robert S. said that not allowing the group is “kind of contradicting if you close a group. of individuals based on their opinions and views. . This definitely goes against Taft’s mission statement.
A 1968 Taft graduate who attended the meeting, Art Ellingsen, said that “students need to hear the other side of the discussion, the conservative point of view.”
Earlier Tuesday, Amelia “Ammie” Kessem, a 41st Ward Republican committee member and 20-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, told the Sun-Times that she first heard of Taft’s potential chapter. through his daughter, a school elder who was interested in the group.
Kessem took to Facebook earlier this month to congratulate âcourageous studentsâ looking to start the chapter.
âI couldn’t be prouder of them,â she wrote. “In a city where progressive liberals have continuously and unjustifiably attacked conservative figures including myself and my children … please help them support them and their cause by posting messages encouraging. “
Kessem’s message, however, caught the attention of CPD officials. Police have opened an investigation into the December 5 post and its potential involvement with Taft’s group, a CPD spokesperson confirmed.
Kessem said she never “prompted [students] want to start a chapter. She refused to make her daughter available for an interview.
Turning Point USA has been accused on several occasions of disseminating extremist views. Turning Point Action, the group’s political arm, paid teens to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and COVID-19, the Washington Post reported.
But when Kirk, the group’s founder, spoke at Colorado State University in 2018, attracting neo-Nazi protesters, Kirk explicitly moved Turning Point USA away from those protesters, Colorado reported.
âIt’s not who we are,â Kirk said in his speech. “It’s not what we believe, it’s not what Turning Point believes.”
Kessem said the idea of ââTurning Point USA promoting racial intolerance is “absolutely ridiculous” and said the organization has members of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientations.
Nora Flanagan, a teacher at Northside College Prep who researches white nationalism, told the Sun-Times that Turning Point USA is “on a good day, adjacent to white nationalism,” referring to anti-gay and transphobic social media posts. made by people involved.
“Only the most shameless and shameless racists are going to put a swastika on their clothes,” Flanagan said. âTurning Point, for my money, is the more pared-down version of the same old ideology. “
Kessem encouraged the students trying to form the group to “step back” and decide how to proceed in January. A Instagram account claiming to represent Turning Point at Taft published in its article Tuesday that the group had “officially moved” its account to the Cook County section of the organization.