Arizona State University (ASU) is currently investigating a distressing incident that occurred on its campus involving a queer faculty member and controversial conservative group Turning Point USA. Here’s the full story.
Altercation or Investigation?
On Wednesday afternoon in Tempe, Arizona, an altercation unfolded in which David Boyles, an instructor in ASU’s English Department, was followed and filmed by two individuals. These individuals, who have been identified as affiliates of an online show produced by Turning Point USA, a controversial conservative group, began a heated exchange with Boyles, prompting ASU to initiate an investigation.
Film Crew or Hit Squad?
According to police spokesperson Adam Wolfe, security footage reveals that Boyles was followed by a “reporter” and a “cameraman.” Turning Point USA has not disclosed the identities of these individuals.
False Grooming Claims
In a statement posted on social media, Turning Point USA mentioned that these individuals were affiliated with FRONTLINES, a show that recently established a “Child Safety Unit” dedicated to combating predators who prey on minors. Falsely accusing LGBTQ+ individuals of pedophilia and “grooming” minors has become a recurring tactic used by far-right extremists.
LGBTQ Politics and Pop Culture
The incident occurred right after Boyles had finished teaching a class about LGBTQ+ youth in pop culture and politics. The individuals following him began yelling about Drag Story Hour Arizona, an organization Boyles co-founded in 2019. This organization’s mission is to provide “inclusive story times” for children and support diversity in early literacy.
Harassment on Campus
In a video shared by Turning Point USA, Boyles can be seen being approached by their “crew members.” He declined to answer their questions, but they continued to follow him, raising questions about his involvement in events where performers express their gender identity and how he became “attracted to minors.”
“You Can’t Run”
At one point in the video, one of the individuals tells Boyles, “You can’t run.” The confrontation then escalated when one of the Turning Point USA affiliates pushed Boyles to the ground, injuring him, before fleeing the scene.
Attacked From Behind
Turning Point USA, however, asserts that Boyles initiated a physical altercation by “lunging, pushing, and clawing” at the person filming. Boyles responded to the incident on Instagram, mentioning that he moved to block the camera, anticipating that it would be used to further harass him. He claims that when he did so, the other individual attacked him from behind.
“Call Them Out”
Boyles described his injuries as “relatively minor,” but he expressed anger and distress at the normalization of such harassment and violence. He implored society not to “coddle these … terrorists” and to call them out for what they are.
Boyles believes he was “targeted” and has been included on Turning Point USA’s “professor watchlist,” which identifies professors accused of discriminating against conservative students or promoting leftist ideologies in the classroom.
Removed From Campus
ASU President Michael Crow previously asked Turning Point USA to remove ASU faculty from this list due to harassing messages. Boyles has also been the subject of a post on AZ Free News, a website that, according to its mission, aims to provide independent journalism and alternative perspectives.
Drag Story Hour
In this post, Boyles’ involvement in Drag Story Hour Arizona and his suggestions for new library titles were discussed, suggesting that he supports “planting pornographic LGBTQ+ banned books in local libraries.” Before the individuals involved in the incident were publicly identified as Turning Point USA “crew members,” Boyles accused the group and AZ Free News of spreading “inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric” that incited the confrontation.
Charges Being Investigated
The ongoing police investigation at ASU aims to determine whether “bias or prejudice” played a role in the incident. If it is established that Boyles was targeted because of his sexuality, this could lead to aggravated assault charges and a more severe penalty.
Rights and Freedoms
The incident at ASU involving a queer faculty member has prompted questions about LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression. ASU’s investigation will hopefully shed light on the motivations behind this confrontation and ensure that all individuals are treated with respect and dignity on the university’s campus.
Hate Crimes on Campus
Online the story has been met by a vigorous back and forth between supporters and detractors of Boyles. One social media user commented “This tragic and violent confrontation was instigated by Turning Point staff. They were the ones who entered ASU Campus targeting a professor. Turning Point staff need to be held to account for instigating a hostile confrontation and the aggravated assault as a HATE CRIME.”
Y’all Need Jesus
Another user pointed out the apparent contradiction of the “camera crew” using violence in support of their aims, stating “Members of turning point need to read the new testament. These groups think they know Jesus? They act opposite to his teachings and should repent.”
Leave Kids Out Of It
However, other users online have come out against Boyles, seemingly supporting the far right rhetoric of groups like Turning Point USA. One social media user commented “Guess he shouldn’t have tried to put his hands on the cameraman. And should have left kids out of it.”
Lucky or Unlucky?
One other user left much more worrying comments on their public profile, stating “David Broyles is just lucky his family is not making the arrangements for his funeral which is what should have happened.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.