Minnesota BLM chapter founder quit group after discovering ‘ugly truth’ behind movement

The founder of the St. Paul, Minn. chapter of Black Lives Matter has announced he has left the organization after learning what he described as “the ugly truth” — the group’s apparent disinterest in helping to support black families and its opposition to school choice.

“I was an insider in Black Lives Matter. And I learned the ugly truth,” Rashad Turner noted in a video posted last week to YouTube by a group called TakeCharge Minnesota.

Turner initially made headlines with BLM in 2015 when he seemed to justify BLM members marching in Minnesota while chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” — a slogan many took to mean inflicting harm or death upon police officers. In an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, he tried to say that the slogan only meant that BLM wants police officers held to the same standard as citizens.

“I’m not sure what a good cop is,” Turner said at the time. “We’re getting hung up by this rhetoric that’s making white people uncomfortable or causing that discomfort. Every day as a black man I’m uncomfortable simply because of the color of my skin.”

He also helped lead a BLM march at the Minnesota State Fair in which demonstrators, many of whom were white, blocked entrances to the venue.

“We thought the state fair represented a venue that represented a lot of people, a lot of people from rural Minnesota, who maybe haven’t had the opportunity to get engaged or kind of hear the messages of what’s going on in the black community,” he told MPR News in August 2015.

But now, Turner says he’s had a change of heart.

“I am living proof that no matter your start in life, quality education is a pathway to success,” said Turner, who added he is the first person in his family to have graduated college, earning a master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn. He now heads the Minnesota Parent Union.

“I want the same success for our children in our communities. That’s why in 2015, I was a founder of Black Lives Matter in St. Paul. I believed the organization stood for exactly what the name implies: Black lives do matter,” he added. “However, after a year on the inside, I learned they had little concern for rebuilding Black families, and they cared even less about improving the quality of education for students in Minneapolis.”

Continuing, Turner made reference to a 2016 platform espoused by the Movement for Black Lives, a network of groups that included Black Lives Matter, that sought a cessation on the expansion of charter schools. That position aligned with that of national teachers’ unions, which have traditionally opposed school choice even though having an alternative to failing public schools is popular in the black community.

“The moratorium on charter schools does not support rebuilding the black family. But it does create barriers to a better education for Black children,”  Turner said. “I resigned from Black Lives Matter after a year and a half. But I didn’t quit working to improve black lives and access to a great education.”

Earlier in the video, Turner said his father was shot and killed when he was just two years old, and that he was raised by grandparents because his mother could not take care of him. “They told me that if I was going to change my life for the better, education was the answer,” he said of his grandparents.

He said that his organization, which advocates for school choice, is “up against forces that don’t want us to succeed.”

“But success is possible,” Turner noted further. “Just look at me and the hundreds of children and families we’ve helped to pursue a great education, break the chains of poverty, and lead a life of success.”

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Jon Dougherty

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