Taft High School Nixes attempted a chapter of the young conservative group Turning Point USA

NORWOOD PARK – A controversial youth group with links to extremists tried to start a chapter at Taft High School – and although it was rejected by the principal, some students continue to push to organize.

Last week, a group of local Republican students and groups announced their wish to create a Turning Point USA section at Taft, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. The Taft administration and Chicago’s public schools were quick to reject the section’s attempt to start up, with officials saying the school will not support a group that promotes racial intolerance and does not celebrate diversity and inclusion.

“All student organizations must align with Taft’s mission statement, which is to” educate the citizens of the world to create a better world, “wrote principal Mark Grishaber in a letter to the school community. “Please know that the staff and administration of Taft will never tolerate the formation of a group that does not uphold these values. “

Beyond the issues related to the group’s work, Grishaber told Block Club that students who want to start the Turning Point USA group have not found a sponsor or filled out applications.

Founded in 2012, Turning Point USA has a presence on more than 2,500 high school and college campuses, and has three chapters in the Chicago area, according to its website. Its political arm, Turning Point Action, has been linked to spreading misinformation about the election and COVID-19, according to the Washington Post.

The group has also been linked to the rhetoric of white nationalism, and its leaders and members have “made several racist or sectarian comments and have been linked to a variety of extremists,” according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Student Press Law. Center.

An Instagram account for Taft’s potential chapter surfaced last week, but there is no post yet. At one point, his description read, “We’re not going to give up. “

On Tuesday, the description was updated to say, “The Teachers Union has gone mad so we played a coup, rather than just the school, we run the county :).” The account is now linked to a separate Turning Point Activism Hub account in Cook County.

The people behind the Taft Chapter’s Instagram account did not immediately respond to questions, saying they should consult with the national group to determine who could respond.

The controversy arises as the local Taft school board prepares to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The public meeting is open to everyone and will also be webcast.

Taft’s decision to end the chapter had Support teachers, parents and some members of his local school council.

But Chicago GOP officials said in a Tweeter the decision to stop the chapter is tantamount to censorship.

Amelia “Ammie” Kessem, a member of the 41st Ward Republican committee and 20-year veteran of the police service, has previously praised the students for trying to start the chapter. Kessem posted on her political Facebook page on December 5 about the Taft chapter, saying she “couldn’t be prouder” of the students.

“In a city where progressive liberals have continually and unjustifiably attacked conservative figures, including myself and my children, calling us ‘Nazis’, ‘white supremists’ and downright ‘racists’, I am sure that these students realize that this is almost certainly going to be scrutinized by the administration of this school which seems to embrace the Marxist views of a substantial number of members of the Chicago teachers’ union, ”wrote Kessem, some parents and alumni of Taft agreeing.

The police department has since launched an internal investigation into Kessem’s social media posts about Turning Point USA, department spokespersons said.

Kessem, who did not respond to requests for comment, did not share any updates after the school’s decision, but she has been investigated by the department in the past for other comments on social media considered homophobic and for allegedly harassing a local teacher.

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