ASU president responds after Turning Point USA altercation | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

TEMPE, Ariz. — One day after video was released of an alleged attack on a queer instructor who was confronted by a video crew with the right-wing group Turning Point USA on ASU’s Tempe campus, the university’s president is responding. 

“It is astounding to me that individuals from Turning Point USA would wait for an ASU instructor to come out of his class to follow him, harass him and ultimately shove him to the ground, bloodying his face,” ASU President Dr. Michael Crow said in a letter posted to the university’s website Saturday.  

Crow’s letter — and a similar statement issued by the chair of state board of regents — marked the strongest reaction yet to a brewing issue about the nature of free speech, journalism harassment.

“Cowards that they are and so confident in the legality and appropriateness of their actions, the Turning Point USA “reporter” and “cameraman” then ran away from the scene before police arrived,” Crow’s letter continued. “This is the kind of outrageous conduct that you would expect to see from bullies in a high school cafeteria.” 

The reported assault occurred about 3:25 p.m. Wednesday in the Fulton Garage area on the Tempe campus. 

ASU security video of the incident released late Friday shows instructor David Boyles appearing to lunge at the TPUSA videographer. He is then shoved to the ground by the TPUSA personality who was peppering Boyles with questions about sexuality.

Boyles appears to hit his head on the stone plaza.

Earlier Friday, Turning Point spokesman Andrew Kolvet told 12News that the camera man plans to file a police report and press charges for assault. 

“They did not initiate any physical altercation,” Kolvet said of the two-person Turning Point crew. 

Boyles is a founder of Drag Story Hour. He teaches writing and a course on LGBTQ+ youth in pop culture and politics.  

Credit: David Boyles Facebook post

David Boyles Facebook post

Crow said in his letter that he spoke with Boyles about what happened and watched the video of the confrontation adding that, “It is stunning for Turning Point USA leadership to endorse, defend and fund such activity in the name of ‘freedom.'” 

Crow also said he wrote to Turning Point USA in April, asking them to remove ASU professors from their ‘Professor Watchlist,’ which Crow believes has led to “antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic attacks on ASU faculty with whom Turning Point USA and its followers disagree.” 

Crow also said that even though Turning Point USA has been part of and even hosted events at ASU, the University “will do all that we can to end the bullying and intimidation of our faculty members by Turning Point USA and to reduce threats against the members of the ASU community which arise from such actions. ”   

Arizona Board of Regents Chair Fred DuVal also released a statement on the incident, which reads, “The Arizona Board of Regents supports free speech and expression on each of our public university campuses, but will not accept harassment, bullying and similar incitements to violence against our students, professors and staff members. Turning Point USA should be ashamed for its targeted intimidation campaign against university professors, an effort that culminated this week with an ASU instructor – simply walking to his car after class – being shoved to the ground by a pair of Turning Point operatives. This organization needs to stop putting people at risk. The Board stands fully behind President Crow – and each of our university leaders – and will do everything possible to ensure our campuses remain focused on learning and free of violence, threats and harassment.”

‘Coming for Your Children’

Phoenix-based Turning Point USA has become a national voice in the culture wars permeating right-wing politics.

Critics say the organization spreads a dangerous message that LGBTQ Americans are “coming for your children.” College professors are a target in video confrontations that are widely promoted online, and in a “Professor Watchlist” on TPUSA’s website.

TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk has been embroiled in a yearlong spat with ASU’s leadership over the alleged censorship of conservative voices on campus.

‘You Can’t Run’

A 96-second video posted Thursday by TPUSA shows a personality named Kalen D’Almeida following Boyles and firing questions at him, after Boyles declined to speak to him.

“You can’t run. It’s best if you just talk to me on why you want to push sodomy to young people,” D’Almeida says as Boyles continues walking away.

In a post on his Facebook page, Boyles said he was leaving his “LGBTQ+ youth in pop culture and politics” class when he was accosted by the TPUSA crew. 

Credit: David Boyles

David Boyles

‘I moved to block the camera’

“One filmed on his phone while the other shouted horrible and incendiary things at me, repeating standard right-wing nonsense about Drag Story Hour and also accusing me personally of pedophilia and hating America,” Boyles’ post says. 

“Knowing that they were filming in order to post this online and inspire even more harassment against me, I moved to block the camera. When I did so, the other one jumped me from behind, slamming me to the pavement.”

Boyles posted an image of what appears to be a gash on the left side of his face.

“My physical injuries are relatively minor and I’m doing OK,” the post says. “But I’m also feeling angry, violated, embarrassed, and despairing at the fact that we have come to normalize this kind of harassment and violence.” 

Boyles didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Showed Up at U of A in April

D’Almeida’s social media profiles indicate he does work for the “Frontlines: Child Safety Unit” – part of TPUSA – and is an “undercover expose artist.” 

Back in April, at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, D’Almeida initiated a similar confrontation with a professor who does work on queer and transgender studies.

ASU Policies on Campus Safety

After media reports Friday about the confrontation, ASU released this statement:

“Any time there is an incident like this, we work directly with faculty and staff to address their concerns about safety, which is a top priority at ASU.

Here is more information on the process:

Harassment or threatening behavior toward ASU employees is dangerous, unsettling and will not be tolerated. With that in mind, we reviewed our university protocols to ensure swift reporting, careful investigation, and focus on your safety as our utmost concern.

The Threat Assessment and Management Team has been created to support employees who are experiencing threats that impact their personal and professional safety and ability to carry out their duties and responsibilities. The team will assess behaviors from both internal and external sources. The team also will respond in a timely manner to all reports of harassment or threats, help employees navigate appropriate resources for support, and work with ASU PD and other law enforcement agencies as appropriate.

Additionally, there is a team from areas across the university that actively monitors and investigates all potential online threats and harassment, working closely with law enforcement.

The Provost Office has launched for an overview of steps to take if you experience threatening behavior or harassment. If additional guidance is needed, please reach out to Jillian McManus and the Employee Assistance Office at 480-965-2271.”

>> Editor’s Note: The broadcast version of this story included a chyron that described Turning Point USA as an “anti-LGBTQ group.” TPUSA says that is false. The organization employs a number of LGBTQ staff members in Phoenix and all over the country. 

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