Dan Cox running mate Gordana Schifanelli, Attorney General nominee Michael Peroutka to come to TU; protest expected to occur in response
By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief and Jake Shindel, Senior Editor
On-campus protests are expected to occur on Monday, Oct. 3, as Towson University’s chapter of Turning Point USA will host Maryland’s Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Gordana Schifanelli and Attorney General nominee and former League of the South member Michael Peroutka.
TU TPUSA, a conservative activist group, will host Schifanelli, a member of Dan Cox’s gubernatorial campaign, and Peroutka to discuss the U.S. Constitution, according to an Instagram post by the group.
According to an article by the Washington Post, from 2014-18, Peroutka, who’s endorsed by Cox, was a member of the League of the South, an American and white nationalist organization. He previously served on the Anne Arundel County Council and is a practicing Lawyer.
The League of the South, according to its website, seeks to “return to a more traditional, conservative Christian-oriented Southern culture.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled The League of the South as a hate group.
Schifanelli will be attending and speaking at the event as well. Aside from her role within the Cox campaign, she is also a lawyer and founder of the Kent Island Patriots group, The Baltimore Sun reported.
In response to the event, TU’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America is planning a protest at West Village Commons where the event will take place, a source with the group told The Towerlight.
“We whole heartedly denounce the presence of white supremacy and Christian nationalism on Towson University’s campus, especially in the case of candidates who seek to represent the American people on all levels of government,” the TU YDSA said in a statement. “This peaceful protest is intended to demonstrate that these regressive values hold no place here and will not go unchallenged.”
Tim Yalinkilincer, media and communications director of TU’s TPUSA chapter said the group encourages protesters to attend the event.
“Those who wish to protest should know that they are only able to do so because of the first amendment rights guaranteed to them in our constitution,” Yalinkilincer said in a statement. “Hence why we need more discussions on the importance of our constitution and what’s in it for everyone.”
He directed inquiries on Peroutka’s to his campaign manager.
Echoing Yalinkilincer, TU TPUSA President Brendan Hegberg said he was “honored” to host the event and welcomes all to attend.
“Events like these are designed to promote civil discussion in times of severe polarization,” Hegberg said in a statement. “That being said, i [sic] encourage those who protest to join us for the event and ask questions relating to the topic of the event. I wanna make this clear to everyone that plans on attending or protesting this event, [this] is not a campaign event. I also ask everyone to voice their opinions in a respectful and civil manner to avoid escalation of problems.”
Peroutka has centered his campaign around speaking out against COVID-19 health mandates, advocating for restrictions on abortion rights and stricter immigration policies, a Maryland Matters article reports.
Similarly, the Cox campaign has placed emphasis on increased gun rights, support for law enforcement and restricting abortion access.
Will Thorne, president of TU’s College Democrats chapter, said the organization denounces the event, but is not planning to protest as a group as the event falls during their regularly scheduled meeting.
“I can’t speak for what people individually plan to do after our meeting, but I can say that we strongly support the protests,” Thorne said in a statement .
In response to the event and possible protesting, a TU spokesperson said the university supports the expression of free speech among its students.
“TU values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas,” the university said in a statement. “The free exchange of ideas and information is central to higher education’s foremost obligation of fostering both intellectual development and the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. With certain exceptions, such as threats of physical violence and unlawful harassment, free speech and expression is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a public institution, TU endeavors to protect each student’s free speech rights, and may not limit speech or expression, based solely on the content or the views being expressed.”
The Towerlight has reached out to the Dan Cox for Governor and Michael Peroutka for Maryland Attorney General campaigns but have not received any response.
This story will be updated.