Turning Point USA Organizing Chapter at Taft High School: Chicago Police Sgt Amelia Kessem

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Amelia Kessem is a well-known Chicago Police Sgt with a history of vocal political right advocacy. Kessem has also been very publicly accused of assisting an accused offender in an incident wherein a Chicago resident was harassed and property damaged for criticizing Alderman Jim Gardiner. 

Kessem also stands publicly accused of engaging in a campaign wherein it is alleged that Kessem tried to have a Chicago Public Schools teacher fired for her political beliefs.  

On Sunday, December 05th, 2021, a post was made to her 41st Ward Facebook page. The post supported the alleged formation of a local Chicago chapter of a conservative organization by students at Taft known as "Turning Point USA" or "TPUSA".  The Facebook page is run by Matthew Peter Podgorski, per the page's intro information. This makes it unclear who has access to the page, and who authorizes the posts made there.

Kessem praised the students as "brave", and stated "I could not be more proud of them". 

At 7:26AM this morning, Chicago-One News sent an e-mail to Chicago Public Schools Media Affairs, and at 7:35AM this morning, Chicago-One reached-out to Chicago Police News Affairs with questions in an e-mail. 

8AM this morning, contact was made by phone with a person only identifying himself by the first name of "Mark" who confirmed that he is the Principal of Taft High School. "Mark" stated that it is "ridiculous. There is no white supremacy happening here" and at the same time also stated "I love my job and I can't answer any other questions unless news people are vetted by CPS Communications"

Chicago-One News then attempted to reach Chicago Public Schools Communications at 9:03AM this morning by phone, and got their voicemail system. 

Mary Ann Fergus, a Spokesperson at Chicago Public Schools Media Relations issued this statement late in the evening on December 6th, 2021 via e-mail: 

"Taft High School is fully committed to creating a learning environment where diversity is celebrated, and where every student feels safe, supported, and valued. School administrators, faculty, students and community members were disturbed to learn that an organization promoting racial intolerance was associated with the school.

Taft High School offers a community built on respect and inclusion, and one that rejects any organization that would seek to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or anything else.

All student organizations must align with the Taft mission statement, which is to “educate global citizens to create a better world.” The staff and administration at Taft will never tolerate the formation of any group that does not support these values. At Taft, and throughout our District, diversity is our strength and our classrooms, school communities and organizations celebrate that diversity everyday."

Chicago-One News reached-out to Amelia Kessem herself via her 41st Ward Facebook page for comment. 

Kessem and her campaign responded by blocking this journalist. 

Who is Amelia Kessem?

Amelia Kessem is a Chicago Police Sgt. who joined the Chicago Police Department on March 8th, 1999, and has since been accused three times of misconduct. 

Enid Santiago and Martha Thiel were witnesses, according to records found by CPDP. Kessem's pasr CR numbers are as follows: 290438 on 6-27-2003 with an accusation of Use of Force, followed by the 2nd allegation under CR Number 260554 for two counts of Domestic Violence on 3-5-2000. Per CPD officer conduct policies, CR# 260554 appears to have been filed incorrectly, and should have also included an accusation that Kessem violated a rule that applies to any conduct on or off-duty that shows disrespect to a person for any reason, as well as a department rule that prohibits engaging in any kind of unnecessary verbal or physical altercations with the public. 

Although these allegations were not sustained, this shows a pattern of Kessem being accused of misconduct, and it is known that COPA under all of its prior agency names has created a practice and pattern of improperly clearing officers of even the most serious charges of misconduct. 

Kessem has a history of using a different last name than what is currently shown on her Facebook page. Police Internal Affairs documents show that the prior last name is Terrell. 

Currently assigned to CPD's 016th District, Kessem/Terrell has had three star numbers assigned to her over time:  2190, 8817, and 16529. 

What is Turning Point USA? 

"TPUSA claims chapters on over 1,000 college and high school campuses across the country. It markets itself saying it promotes freedom, free markets and limited government — a brand of conservatism squarely aimed at millennials. According to a New Yorker expose on the group, “[a]mong its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of ‘free speech’ policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ movements.” - Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Watch

The New Yorker states "Turning Point casts itself as a grassroots response to what it perceives as liberal intolerance on college campuses. Kirk has called college campuses “islands of totalitarianism”; he and his supporters contend that conservatives are the true victims of discrimination in America, and he has vowed to fight back on behalf of what he has called his “Team Right.”

The New Yorker also states "Turning Point is barred from aiding political campaigns. “Under the law, a 501(c)3 can’t engage in political action or give anything of value to a campaign, including students, or the names of students”. 

The Turning Point USA website shows that they are indeed a 501(c)3 organization. 

Screengrab taken Dec 6th, 2021 confirming that TPUSA is a 501(c)3 organization

TPUSA's activism locator shows that they already have college/university campuses in and near Chicago, Illinois, which include the University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, University of Illinois in Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. 

That same chapter locator shows one of the northern suburb chapters is located at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy.

This reporter looked into the veracity and truthfulness of TPUSA's claims made by the chapter locator.  

 

December 6th, 2021 screengrab of the TPUSA website showing TPUSA chapters in and near Chicago

This reporter made contact with  Dr. Yzette Miller at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy who stated there is absolutely no TPUSA chapter at Ida Crown Jewish Academy. Dr. Miller told this reporter in a phone call that she spoke with their Dean who said some students there attempted to start a chapter but it never gained any support, and stated further that there will never be a TPUSA chapter at Ida Crown Jewish Academy.   

Gerald McSwiggan, a news media spokesperson at the University of Chicago stated in a telephone call that TPUSA is not a registered student organization at the University of Chicago. McSwiggan also said that any organization can claim affiliation, but University of Chicago requires them to be registered as a student organization.  

Notable Facebook Comments on Kessem's December 5th, 2021 post supporting TPUSA:

The December 5th post by Kessem featured a comment left by a woman publicly identifying herself as a Chicago Public Schools employee using the name, Jennifer Murphy. Murphy stated she feels as if "we have no voice in the system" and offered her support to Kessem.  Murphy stated in her comment that oldest child attends Taft. 

Facebook comment on Kessem's Dec 5th post by CPS employee Jennifer Murphy

Murphy's Facebook page features two anti-Biden posts, one of which is in morse code (Sept 3rd, 2021 posting). The code translated says "Fuck Biden". On November 19th, 2021, at 5:46AM, Murphy posted a meme with a black background and white printing that says "Let's Go Brandon", a known conservative phrase that is said to mean "fuck Biden". 

Murphy earlier contradicted both of these posts on June 2nd, 2021 with a post that shows a painted rock with blue wording that says "Even if we disagree about everything we can still be kind to each other"

On April 28th, 2018, in another public post, Murphy posted a photo of her daughter decked-out in a red t-shirt and red hat, holding a pair of red socks, all of which had white lettering that said "Make America Great Again". 

That post is not being provided here because it features a child. 

Another commenter on Kessem's campaign page made accusations that there has been violence at Taft, claiming the existence of video shown to her by "a couple of friends whose children to there". This same commenter also left a remark intended to spread false information about transgender people being a threat in bathrooms. 

 This reporter did some checking on the veracity of this comment left by "MN Ashley", which included reaching out to this very commenter for further information and context. This reporter then contacted the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center to find out if they had awareness of any complaints of students at Chicago Public Schools sexually assaulting other students in genderless bathrooms under the guise of being transgender.  This reporter spoke with Liz Caudler, spokesperson for CACC who stated CACC can't comment because they need to protect those who visit CACC and those they provide support to. 

The Chicago Children's Advocacy Center works closely with the Chicago Police Department Special Investigations Unit, a specialized unit that investigates sex crimes involving child victims.  This relationship includes conducting forensic interviews with child victims in the presence of S.I.U. Detectives and Assistant State's Attorneys from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office who observe those interviews from a different room than where the interview occurs. 

This reporter then spoke with Sgt. Price at the CPD Special Investigations Unit. Price stated that there are no genderless bathrooms at Chicago Public High Schools, and she is not aware of any such incidents claimed by the Facebook commenter. 

A search of crimes performed by this reporter using Chicago Police Department records posted online between 2001 and the current day revealed no sexual assaults in CPS bathrooms. 

On December 7th, 2021, the Chicago GOP Twitter account expressed their discontent with the decision of Taft High School to deny TPUSA a chapter at their school because the organization did not meet Taft or Chicago Public Schools standards, and because no teacher wanted to sponsor the chapter. 

The Chicago GOP account tagged this reporter in their tweet, and it should be noted that this reporter has no current or past affiliation of any kind with Taft High School.     

Taft Principal Grishaber & the Marxist pearlclutchers at Taft HS (@RealDaniHensley @noraflanagan @jenbotjones ) are afraid of exposing the students to this, by denying them a @TPUSA chapter#Legendary

"A Time for Choosing" by Ronald Reagan https://t.co/JlNd7As1E3 via @YouTube

— Chicago GOP (@ChicagoGOP) December 7, 2021

There was no response to be seen on the Ammie Kessem 41st Ward page as of this morning at the time this news article was published.  

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