The Potluck

St. Thomas College Republicans express support for white nationalist

By: - January 7, 2022 2:20 pm

The St. Thomas College Republicans tweeted support Thursday for a Holocaust denier and white nationalist after he was kicked off GETTR, former President Donald Trump’s new social media platform.

On Thursday, the student-run account tweeted, “Some free speech platform,” with a link to a story about Nicholas Fuentes being repeatedly banned from GETTR “for seemingly no reason.”

Fuentes rose to prominence when he left Boston University after he reported being threatened for attending the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. He began hosting a weekly livestream show called America First and was banned by YouTube in 2020 — and has repeatedly tried to get around the ban. 

Fuentes has been a central figure in the white power movement since 2017, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and encouraged his followers to attend “Stop the Steal” events last year, even raising the specter of killing lawmakers.

The St. Thomas college group has also reposted Fuentes on Gab, a social media network that became a home for far-right extremists and QAnon followers after Trump was banned from Twitter.

The St. Thomas club president responded at 6 p.m. Friday that the tweet was not an endorsement of any of Fuentes’ viewpoints, but a comment on the banning of Fuentes and criticism of GETTR.

“Our tweet was sharing an article about the topic, and was not an endorsement of any particular person,” David Povolny, president of the St. Thomas College Republicans, said in a statement.

Povolny noted that last fall the group released a statement condemning bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, and stands by it.

“Our goal is to promote a campus culture of free expression and true diversity of opinion,” the statement said.

The group’s Twitter account says it is a student-run account and doesn’t reflect the positions or views of the University of Saint Thomas. According to its website, its purpose is “to provide a space for conservative students to speak freely on campus, and form bonds with like minded students over issues that matter to us. Our goal is to promote the principles and values of the Republican party.”

The club has also expressed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, tweeting that he “did nothing wrong.” Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two and wounding the third, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse claimed self-defense, and was acquitted on all counts.

A previous University of St. Thomas chapter chair of the Minnesota College Republicans, Gisela Castro Medina, was arrested last year on federal sex trafficking charges, along with GOP donor Anton Lazzaro. She has pleaded not guilty to recruiting underage girls for Lazzaro.

This story was updated at 8:19 p.m. Friday to include a comment from the St. Thomas College Republicans.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.

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