A Reddit thread, an anti-fascist flyer and a conservative student organization each are pieces of an ongoing McHenry County College and campus police investigation.
Officials are looking into allegations that a self-proclaimed “Antifa” activist removed flyers promoting a Turning Point USA event and instead hung posters that likened President Donald Trump supporters to Nazis.
“Upon being notified about this situation, the college took immediate action,” said Christina Haggerty, vice president of marketing, communications and development at McHenry County College. “This is an ongoing issue under investigation, and both Student Conduct and Campus Police are actively involved in the investigation process.”
Alec Stone, president of Turning Point USA’s McHenry County College chapter, said his group visited the MCC police station twice Thursday and is on alert for any other vandalism or threats.
Stone added that he found it disturbing that there are efforts to remove his organization from campus.
“We’re not going to censor you, but if you’re going to try to essentially shut us down, we’re going to use our voices because the truth is on our side,” Stone said.
“We beat ’em before … we’ll beat ’em again!” Those are the words printed in red block-lettering across a poster that Turning Point USA of McHenry County called a “threatening” and “shameful” act of misconduct.
The poster in question depicts a silhouetted Trump supporter wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball hat. Behind him – the shadow of a World War II Nazi soldier with a Swastika on the side of his helmet. Both men are pictured with their hands up and what appears to be a rifle’s bayonet pointed at them.
According to a TPUSA of McHenry County Facebook post, the poster replaced a flyer that advertised an upcoming TPUSA event.
“Our posters promoted a speech by former Antifa member turned conservative commentator, Gabriel Nadales, and a speaking event/dinner by Turning Point USA’s Founder and President, Charlie Kirk, in Crystal Lake, Illinois hosted by the McHenry County Republican Party,” the post read.
A commenter on an anti-fascist Reddit forum appears to have taken responsibility for the flyer swap and expressed plans to help others “fight back against Turning Point” on their campuses.
“McHenry County is going to be TP-Free if I have anything to do about it,” the commenter wrote in one post. “We won’t tolerate having a hate group on our campus.”
The Northwest Herald reached out to the commenter Thursday morning but did not receive a response.
Kirk, a Wheeling native who established the conservative nonprofit in 2012, describes TPUSA as “a national student movement dedicated to empowering young people to promote the principles of free markets and limited government.”
The organization has more than 300 chapters on college campuses nationwide, several of which are in Illinois. Among the state’s TPUSA chapter-holding schools are McHenry County College, North Central College in Naperville and Libertyville High School, according to TPUSA’s website.
The organization has been lauded by prominent Republican figures such as Donald Trump Jr., and criticized for alleged campaign finance violations and its perceived treatment of marginalized people. A 2017 New Yorker investigation suggested “the group may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity.” The article also referenced text messages in which the group’s former national field director wrote “I hate black people.”
The “Antifa” – short for anti-fascist – protest movement also has received its share of criticism. The movement made a public resurgence after the 2017 white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally turned deadly when James Alex Fields Jr., who was reportedly fascinated with Nazism, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. The act killed 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist Heather Heyer. In 2018, jurors convicted Fields of first-degree murder in connection with the Charlottesville rally.
Antifa protesters generally aim to “intimidate and dissuade racists,” although their tactics sometimes have included violence and harassment, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Reactions to Antifa-TPUSA discourse on MCC’s campus has been mixed.
One student, Melissa Ragusin, said she didn’t see the posters in question but has seen posters Turning Point has put up for other events before.
“I’m not a fan of it,” she said. “I just don’t think that political groups have any place in a school environment.”
She added that she doesn’t agree with either of the posters.
“Again, it’s politics in general, but I feel like if there’s already a poster up, it is a public space,” Ragusin said. “If somebody feels the need to take their poster down, put up a protest against it, that’s on them. That’s freedom of expression, I guess.”
MCC student Samantha Long said the poster protesting the Turning Point flyer was offensive.
“It kind of looks like they’re holding a knife, and I don’t think that’s cool for school,” Long said. “I think the [Turning Point posters] are fine because they’re just about events; and I think we should be able to express our free speech in school for sure.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle