Turning Point USA urges CMU students to 'Walk Away' from the Democratic Party
Update: This article has been changed to reflect a change in the name of the event shortly before the event took place. It is now called Walk Away.
About 50 students and community members showed up March 14 to hear Brandon Tatum, an African-American former Tucson Police Officer and director of Urban Engagement for Turning Point USA.
Turning Point USA is a politically conservative non-profit organization with the goal of building a “powerful conservative grassroots activist network" on college campuses across the country,” according to its website.
The event, "Walk Away," is part of an ongoing campaign promoted by Turning Point USA that encourages people to leave the Democratic Party.
When Tatum arrived at the event, he had high energy and was excited to speak to those in attendance.
“I love to hear what people think, their different perspectives from different campuses,” Tatum said. “The people, the culture — everything is unique.”
Tatum began his discussion with background information about himself. He grew up in a religious, two-parent household in a majority black neighborhood. At the age of eight, he was caught smoking marijuana in a vacant house and spent time in juvenile detention.
He said his arrest at such a young age taught him he needed to act within the law if he wanted to succeed, especially because his dream at that time was to play football.
“The reason I walked away, is that I believe the left has become so deranged, far-out and just ridiculous that I just could not stand it anymore,” Tatum said, referring to his separation from the Democratic Party.
“In this country, you have a right to believe what you want to believe," he said. "Everybody else has a right to disagree with you, but they don’t have the right to put their hands on you.”
One question toward the end of the Q&A session focused on illegal border crossings, to which Tatum replied that America’s immigration problem is primarily with illegal crossings from Mexico.
Ben Thomason, a St. Clair Shores graduate student, said he just came because he wanted to see what the event was.
"I wish I could have asked him one more question," he said.
Salicia Bayes, a senior from Charlotte and the organizer of the event, learned about Turning Point USA while at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC and recently got approval to start Turning Point USA at CMU.
“It was very nice having that network,” Bayes said. “As a conservative on campus, you really are the minority and that’s how it is. It’s nice to be somewhere with people who are like-minded.”