Unpacking the Events of the Turning Point USA Protest

Masked Proud Boys stand at a protest in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2020 by
Anthony Cridertext

By: Jordan Poltorak

DAVIS, CA–The recent Turning Point USA event was canceled due to violence among protestors and counter-protestors.


On Oct. 25, the right-wing student organization, Turning Point USA, invited Stephen Davis to speak at their event. In response, the organization Cops Off Campus at UC Davis staged a protest and spread the word through Instagram.


An anonymous leak sent to the Vanguard has confirmed the timeline of the following events. 

By 6:00 p.m. around 100 people were gathered at Vanderhoef Quad at approximately 6:30 the crowd started to approach the conference center. According to Will Alpers, a recent UC Davis graduate, the speaker Steven Davis walked out and taunted the crowd. “You’re all weak,” Davis said. 


Alpers reported that then the protestors began to bang on the conference center windows using their hands and any other objects available, including the metal barricades set up in front of the building by security. An anonymous source verified that the University provided Turning Point USA with Members In Black, a private security company, for the event. Around 6:55, 10-14 individuals approached the conference center wearing symbols that are associated with the Proud Boys. Once they approached, altercations began between protestors and counter-protestors. 


These ranged from fist fights to metal barricades being thrown. There are also accounts of pepper spray being used by both sides. Alpers says, “It was all very frantic. Others were not as lucky as I was. They were punched, assaulted, and heavily pepper sprayed.” In response to the violent events, many protestors left bringing the crowd down to 40 to 50 people. The remaining group moved toward the Manetti Shrem Art Museum to escape the Proud Boys; however, the Proud Boys followed close behind as they moved. 


Alpers is not sure what caused the Proud Boys to eventually leave, but he recalls watching protestors chase them away. They ran out to the edge of the quad and did not return. Shortly after, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Pablo G. Reguerin announced the cancellation of the event. According to the source, Reguerin was also present inside the conference center and assisted in the planning of the event. 


UC Davis police were stationed in the conference center and around the building due to anticipated protestors, but at no point did they intervene. Alpers suspects this was the right move due to the pepper spray incident at the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. Eyewitness accounts indicate Davis’s former mayor, Robb Davis was at the event as an administrator with the Center for Student Involvement. Davis however, has been active in saying he cannot comment on the circumstances.


Turning Point USA is a right-wing organization with a mission to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government” and has chapters on 3,000 high school and college campuses. The University has encouraged all students to exercise their 1st amendment rights planning events and inviting speakers or protesting events they feel to be unjust. A statement published shortly after the event affirms that“ UC Davis values and supports freedom of expression as rights guaranteed to every citizen.”


It is clear from the protests that there are individuals on campus who are uncomfortable with Turning Point USA and their beliefs. A student who wishes to remain anonymous has stated, “they are allowed to exercise their right to free speech, but not without consequences. People are going to be upset.” 


A first year, Ethan Po, said that “college is meant for exploring and expanding horizons.” Groups like Turning Point have the right to exist on campus. However, “when it gets to the point of violence, then no one benefits.”

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