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Investigation into gay Amtrak passenger’s severe injuries show unsafe travel

FBI source says Amtrak doesn’t ask for help

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Alyssa and Aaron Salazar (photo from Salazar’s GoFundMe page)

It has been nearly three weeks since 22-year old gay university student Aaron Salazar mysteriously disappeared from his moving train en-route to Sacramento, California and ended up in extremely critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of a Reno, Nevada, hospital.

Although Salazar has been upgraded to Guarded Condition, he is still unable to communicate with family members or Amtrak investigators, according to his family. That fact is a serious problem since Amtrak police are still insisting that he jumped from the train, insinuating in interviews with Salazar’s close Portland State University friends that the young man, a junior, could have possibly been suicidal.

In two separate phone interviews with the Los Angeles Blade, PSU students Morgan Patterson and Andrea Valencia dispute Amtrak investigators’ allegations that Salazar was troubled or even suicidal.

“Someone who is suicidal does not constantly talk about their future. Aaron had big plans to graduate from Portland State with his degree in Economics and continue his education through graduate school in Denver,” Patterson said. “He always talked about wanting to be a politician and to be involved in the government. He wanted to be able to make decisions and change the world. Not once did Aaron display any type of behavior that makes me feel like he would want to take his own life. He has so much to live for and has such a close bond with his family and friends. We would know if Aaron needed help.”

According to Patterson, Amtrak investigators did not reach out to speak to her. However, an investigator did contact Andrea Valencia by phone last week.

“The Amtrak investigator did reach out to me and our conversation lasted eight minutes over the telephone. He asked me about Aaron’s mental state, why he was in Colorado, and any problems he might be having.”

She continued: “He also asked me if I was in a relationship with Aaron, to which I responded that Aaron is gay and that we’re best friends. Additionally, he asked if he was a good student and if he had any stressors in his life. I told the investigator that Aaron is an extremely intelligent person and that all college students face the difficulties of school-life balance.

“He mentioned some encounter that occurred in a break room at his work where Aaron had a confrontation with one of his coworkers,” Valencia said. “I was unaware of this encounter and could not give any information. The investigator asked me if I knew a Brandon or Brendan and wouldn’t elaborate when I told him I did not know who he was talking about and why he was asking me.”

Valencia continued: “I don’t think he was suicidal, honestly, no. When I heard Amtrak was insinuating he committed suicide, that did not make sense to me because he’s just a dork and I don’t think he would do that to the people who love him.”

Aaron Salazar was traveling on Amtrak when he was critically injured. (Photo courtesy Salazar family via Facebook)

Valencia also told the Los Angeles Blade that what troubled her was the fact that she had been reading news reports that Amtrak police had been unable to access Salazar’s iPhone.

“According to all the articles, Amtrak hasn’t looked through his phone, right? What I don’t understand is how they got my number when they haven’t looked through his phone because they contacted me recently,” she said.

Asked if she had sent a text recently to Salazar’s phone, Valencia replied; “I did but the message didn’t go through. It didn’t say it was delivered and Aaron has an iPhone, so it would say whether or not the message was delivered. I texted him that day [Tues. 5/22] just telling him, like, I hope he gets better and this and that. On Wednesday, [5/23] the day afterwards, the investigator called me. So I don’t understand how they got my number when the message hadn’t even been delivered.

“I can’t remember their name, but we spoke for a bit,” she continued. “They asked me about my relationship with Aaron, his mental state before we left and if we had a falling out—because I had mentioned earlier that we haven’t seen each other in awhile because we’ve been so busy with school.”

Asked whether Amtrak investigators specifically mentioned suicide, Valencia answered: “I think they did and I said ‘no.’ A lot of their questions seemed like they were aiming for, like, whether or not he was stable. I honestly didn’t realize it until a friend pointed it out. I didn’t know about the incident till Tuesday. And then, Wednesday, [5/23] they called me at 1:09 [Pacific Time] but I couldn’t answer, so I called them back at 1:14 [PST] on the 24 of May.”

Family members are especially unhappy with the revelations that it appeared that Amtrak investigators had been able to access Salazar’s iPhone.

Sonia Trujillo, a cousin who has been acting as a family spokesperson, told the Los Angeles Blade that Amtrak investigators also contacted her on Wednesday May 23 and told family members that the iPhone was discharged and that they had not been able to gain access to it.

“This is flat wrong,” Trujillo stated.” They’re [police] telling us they can’t get into Aaron’s phone but they called her [Valencia] that very day?”

Amtrak maintains that Salazar was not assaulted or thrown from the train.

In publicly released statements to media outlets this past Saturday, May 26, Amtrak said that it was “deeply saddened by the significant injuries to one of our customers. The Amtrak Police Department reached out to more than 300 customers, crew, and friends in support of this investigation. The individuals who noted interactions with Salazar shared that he had expressed to them a number of life concerns and challenges.”

The statements also noted: “We are unable to comment on Mr. Salazar’s medical condition, but note that a fall from a moving train would cause significant injury. There is no evidence of a physical altercation occurring while Salazar was traveling on Amtrak.

“We have been in contact with Mr. Salazar’s parents and provided them updates on the investigation,” the statements continued. “Out of respect for the family, we are declining to share any additional details of interviews with customers, crew, and friends and encourage everyone to avoid speculation.”

Railroad tracks in Truckee, California. (Photo by Bob Conrad)

Amtrak’s history of obfuscation and denial stretches back decades

A joint Los Angeles Blade – ThisIsReno investigation into the circumstances of Salazar’s case discovered that there have been numerous documented cases of grievous injuries and deaths occurring on Amtrak trains, particularly aboard the California Express Route from Chicago to Oakland.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior FBI official with a working knowledge of Amtrak police operations, procedures, and policies noted to the Los Angeles Blade that Amtrak police have long had a reputation for being difficult and less than transparent with families regarding incidents with their loved ones. The source noted that he is not directly connected to the Salazar matter.

“Amtrak is about thirty years behind in technology and operational knowhow procedural wise- especially forensically,” the FBI official said. “Another problem is Amtrak tends to keep investigations in-house, rarely asking for assistance from other agencies, including the Bureau, that could provide the answers those families are looking for.”

Framing the state of affairs within the Amtrak system, an Amtrak employee who has worked on the California to Chicago lines and is familiar to the Los Angeles Blade said on condition of anonymity:

“Security at Amtrak is next to zero. We often face hostile passengers. Often times they are not removed for fear of being reprimanded by management.

A dining car LSA [Lead Service Attendant] was punched. Did security measures change? No. A conductor was shot because he would not let a passenger off to smoke at a stop that was not a smoking stop. Did security measures change? No. A conductor was stabbed in the head. Did security measures change? No.

“A passenger was attacked by another passenger with sledge hammers we keep on the train in case of an emergency and they are easily accessible by passengers. Did security measures change? No,” the Amtrak employee said. “Congress also allowed for guns to be checked in the baggage car. Is the baggage car locked? No. Can passengers get to it? Yes. A padlock is the only thing that keeps the guns locked.

Every day we go to work we anticipate something happening because it’s a fact of life for us. It’s very much like the Wild West still.”

Rico, Colorado residents Douglas and Cindy Putnam have experienced how difficult getting straight answers or even answers whatsoever from Amtrak officials can be. Their twenty-six year old son, Robin Andrew Putnam, was traveling on July 7, 2012 on an Amtrak train from Emeryville, California to Grand Junction, Colorado where they were waiting to pick him up upon its scheduled arrival on the morning of July 8. He never arrived.

The Salt Lake City Utah police department, Amtrak Police and his parents initiated a massive search with no results. A tip from a fellow female passenger and an Amtrak employee claimed that when the train made a scheduled stop in Salt Lake City at 3:00 AM, Putnam got off the train, leaving his laptop and other belongings onboard. However, they said he never returned to the train.

During that initial intensive two-month effort, a Salt Lake City Police detective, Cody Lougy, asked Putnam’s mother Cindy if her son was gay and maybe was suicidal. She responded that to the best of her and her husband’s knowledge neither was the case. That was substantiated by Putnam’s friends and classmates at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, where he had just completed his junior year.

Robin Putnam. (Photo courtesy Putnam family)

A national “Missing Person’s” case was initiated with “NamUs” (National Missing and Unidentified Persons Search), which stored Putnam’s DNA, dental records, photos and case information on file.

On the morning of Tuesday, August 25, 2015, Union Pacific Railroad employees were working on the train tracks near Wells, Nevada when they found human remains. The remains were exposed close to the westbound tracks in a wash that had gone dry due to an ongoing drought in that area.

Elko County Nevada Sheriff’s Deputies documented the scene and gathered the remains. Officials found a debit card and a set of keys with Putnam’s name on them in his pocket. An Internet search led investigators to NamUs and a lab search made a positive identification with a dental match on Friday, August 28, 2015. Shortly afterwards, a local Rico, Colorado law enforcement official, San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, notified his family.

As with the current case involving Aaron Salazar, the Putnam’s found dealing with Amtrak investigators frustrating. Their missing person’s case turned into a possible murder investigation. Douglas Putnam explained to the Los Angeles Blade that because his son’s remains were found in a location that had been underwater in extremely alkaline water, Elko County Nevada Coroner, Dr. William Webb, listed the cause of death as “Undetermined.”

The overarching problem for Putnam’s parents was getting answers from Amtrak police investigators who had maintained from the outset that Putnam had fallen off the train, maybe of his own volition, insinuating that he was suicidal.

“Robin was a talented artist who enjoyed drawing, painting, writing and researching topics related to fine arts, animation, science, philosophy and spirituality,” Douglas Putnam said.

“He was quiet, fastidious about his appearance- well manicured and soft spoken. But he was happy and he had friends,” his mother Cindy Putnam added. “Not suicidal.”

After his remains were found, the Putnam family continued to press Amtrak investigators for answers. In desperation after a year of receiving virtually no information regarding their son’s case, the parents filed a ‘Freedom Of Information Act’ request with Amtrak in October 2016. Upon receipt of the report, several sections were redacted and calls afterwards to Amtrak officials went unanswered.

Although Putnam’s laptop had been found onboard the train by the Conductor his small bag and backpack were never discovered. However, his father said, the ‘Freedom Of Information Act’ results indicated that Putnam’s wallet ended up at the Amtrak System ‘Lost and Found’ at the end of the route in Chicago nearly a week after Putnam had gone missing.

The parents expressed their sorrow that yet another family is apparently being treated with the same kind of indifference by Amtrak investigators that they received.

“We’re very sorry that Aaron’s family has to deal with those people,” the Putnam’s told the Los Angeles Blade. “Maybe the pressure being brought to bear on Amtrak may finally give us some answers as to what happened to our son.”

Lawmakers demand answers

On May 25 Oregon’s Congressional delegation sent a pointed letter to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson requesting a thorough investigation into the mysterious injuries sustained by passenger Aaron Salazar in Truckee, California.

“We write today in great dismay at the news that Salazar, a Portland State University student, is fighting for his life in a coma, with serious injuries to his brain stem and a broken pelvis,” they wrote.

“This incident may have been a hate crime,” they said. “We … urge Amtrak to utilize all available resources to promptly investigate this case. We expect a full report on the investigation of this crime, to our federal delegation and to Aaron’s family.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici, and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve expressed dismay at the ThisisReno report that found a number of similar, unexplained incidents of injury and death of Amtrak passenger deaths.

“I couldn’t be more disturbed by this investigation into @Amtrak. Thank you @ThisIsReno for demanding answers for these families,” she tweeted Saturday. “(It’s) shocking to read about similar incidents to those of Aaron’s. We continue to pray for him while he clings to life in a Reno hospital.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help defray extensive legal and medical costs: Justice for Aaron.

Reporting by Bob Conrad | ThisIsReno, Christopher Kane | Los Angeles Blade with additional reporting from News Editor Karen Ocamb and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade.

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Florida female school athletes asked about menstrual cycles

“Questions about menstruation absolutely will be used to out transgender athletes and force compliance with the state law banning them”

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Los Angeles Blade file screenshot/YouTube

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For decades, female student athletes in Florida have been asked questions about their menstrual cycles on annual physical evaluation forms. But, as some districts move to the paper document online, activists warn the questions could harm both transgender and pregnant people in the state. 

The form, which all athletes are required to fill out with a physician and turn in to their school’s athletic director, asks students to report things like seizures, fainting spells and allergies. In an optional category, female athletes are also asked about their periods. 

The questions include: 

  • When was your first menstrual period?
  • When was your most recent menstrual period?
  • How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?
  • How many periods have you had in the last year?
  • What was the longest time between periods in the last year?

Though the Florida High School Athletic Association has asked these questions for two decades, a Tuesday article from the Palm Beach Post prompted shock and outrage from LGBTQ and reproductive rights advocates, as well as parents and doctors. 

The newspaper reported that some districts in Florida, including Palm Beach, began moving the form to a digital platform kept by a third party. That – coupled with a political climate where Republican lawmakers are attempting to ban transgender people from sports and abortion is no longer a Constitution right – has people in and out of the state concerned. 

The forms, according to the Palm Beach Post, are subject to subpoena – whether paper or digital. The data is being held by Aktivate, a software company founded by former AOL CEO and News Corp. executive Jon Miller, which has said all student information will be kept confidential.

Pediatricians in the Palm Beach district said the only page of the form that schools should receive is the final one – where a doctor clears an athlete to participate. In Florida, all the medical data is turned over. 

“I don’t see why [school districts] need that access to that type of information,” Dr. Michael Haller, a pediatric endocrinologist based in Gainesville, Fla., told the outlet, adding: “It sure as hell will give me pause to fill it out with my kid.”

On Twitter, transgender activist Alejandra Caraballo, also a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, warned it “has gravely serious implications about medical privacy and the ability for the state of Florida to track student’s menstrual cycles to detect potential abortions.” She also said that the “questions about menstruation absolutely will be used to out transgender athletes and force compliance with the state law banning them.”

“The company [Aktivate] can hand over this medical information under current law to school officials. This means that coaches, principals, and teachers can track their student’s menstrual cycles,” Caraballo tweeted. “Absolutely sickening.”

In Florida, a person can still have an abortion until 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law includes exceptions: to save the pregnant woman’s life and prevent serious injury or a fatal abnormality in the fetus. It has no exception for rape or incest. 
In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law blocking transgender females from participating in school sports matching their gender identity.

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Matt Walsh’s sordid history as a radio host, exposed

Recently, Walsh has been helping lead a campaign against children’s hospitals providing gender-affirming care

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Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

By Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – From early 2010 through August 1, 2011, Matt Walsh co-hosted a radio show called The Matt and Crank Program along with Andrew “Crank” Murr at WZBH “The Beach” 93.5 FM based in Georgetown, Delaware. The show featured all of the worst of Walsh’s bluster and bigotry without the production value given to his current work as a host for The Daily Wire, where he was hired in August 2017

Recently, Walsh has been helping lead a campaign against children’s hospitals providing gender-affirming care. On August 15, Walsh made the false, incendiary claim that these hospitals are “butchering, mutilating, and sterilizing their young patients.” The hospitals highlighted by Walsh and others have been inundated with violent threats — threats that the Daily Wire personality dismissed as a hoax before continuing his campaign.

A review of Walsh’s commentary for The Matt and Crank Program reveals that the pundit has previously praised violent political action, saying that enacting change means that “you have to make people hurt. … Holding signs and yelling loudly will not make anyone hurt.” 

The current Daily Wire personality and What is a Woman filmmaker also claimed that “we probably lost our republic after Reconstruction” and that “as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.” And he performed racist impressions and defended teenage pregnancy and marriage, saying that “at about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions. … It’s just recently where all of a sudden we’re all r——- until we’re 25.” Walsh additionally encouraged subordinates to participate in sexually demeaning stunts, coercing an intern into exposing himself and allowing Walsh to shock him with a stun gun “in the ass.”

Matt Walsh’s violent political worldview: “You have to make people hurt”

While working at WZBH, Walsh attracted attention with a speech at a tea party rally glorifying violence, saying, “If you want extreme things to happen, you have to be willing to take — to go to extremes.

MATT WALSH: Our Founding Fathers had very specific goals in mind that they wanted to accomplish. There wasn’t a generalized sense of outrage. It was, these are our goals we want to accomplish. And by the way, they were willing to back it up with guns and violent force. If you want extreme things to happen, you have to be willing to take — to go to extremes. … Everyone keeps bringing up our Founding Fathers. They were willing to pick up guns and kill people for what they wanted. A sign won’t do it. And calling your congressman won’t do it.

On air, Walsh expanded and doubled down on his comments, saying that “if you want extreme change, you must take extreme action. … You have to make people hurt” and adding that “we probably lost our republic after Reconstruction,” seemingly criticizing the country’s first attempt at a multiracial democracy after the Civil War. Walsh further derided members of the so-called tea party movement as “not willing to do what they [the Founding Fathers] did.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): But what I was trying to say, if you want extreme change, you must take extreme action. What you have to do is look at the situation and decide what exactly you want to have happen. And then you have to honestly approach it and say, what do we have to do to make this happen? But it is, in fact, true that you have to make people hurt. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry. But holding signs and yelling loudly will not make anyone hurt.

Most people will admit that we’ve been on this path not for a year, because of Obama; not for 10 years, because of Bush; not for 20 years, because of Clinton. Not Reagan, not Carter. We’ve been on this path for a hundred years or more. We probably lost our republic after Reconstruction. If you want actual change that isn’t going to reverse itself in 10 years or five years or even one year, then you do have to look at extreme action. 

And by the way, I’m not the one — you go to these tea parties, you’ve got people that are literally dressed up like it’s a costume party, dressed up like our Founding Fathers, dressed up like Samuel Adams and so forth. They’re the ones that keep harkening back to the revolutionary times. You’re the ones, tea party people, that are comparing yourself — in a not subtle way at all — to the revolutionaries. 

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): But then you forget what they did to accomplish their goals.

WALSH: Right. I’m saying, OK, you guys are dressing up like revolutionaries, you’re calling this the Tea Party. Don’t you understand what they did? Even the Tea Party was an illegal act. It was trespassing and vandalism. Don’t you get that? OK. You — don’t, don’t compare yourself to them because you’re not willing to do what they did.

Walsh has called for and defended political violence in many more recent examples, calling for “real men” to assault drag queensdefending secession after the January 6 storming of the Capitol, and defending violence against abortion providers in response to a mass shooting.

Matt Walsh defended pregnancy and marriage for teenage girls: “At about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions” 

Walsh defended girls as young as 16 getting pregnant as long as they’re marrying men, saying, “The problem is not, per se, teenage pregnancy — it’s unwed pregnancy.” Walsh used an ableist slur to dismiss the idea that people are unable to consent to life-changing decisions before age 25 and said that girls “still in high school … want, biologically and metaphysically and with everything in their body, they want to settle down, they want to start a family.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): Teen pregnancy is a new problem.

In the sense that it’s only recently that we decided that it is a problem, OK? But it is not a new problem in the sense that it’s a new phenomenon. It is not. In fact, ever since the beginning of time, teenage girls have been getting pregnant. It used to be more common.

WALSH: That’s my point, OK? So to all of a sudden act like this phenomenon of girls getting pregnant at that — at a young age — that we consider young, 16 or 17, to act like it’s a new thing is ridiculous. It’s always been that way. … Girls between the ages of like 17 and 24 is when they’re technically most fertile. 

… 

WALSH: OK? That’s biological. That’s a fact. I am just stating facts. That’s all I’m doing. But what happened recently, and this is the fourth fact, recently in the last 30 years or so, we decided that that’s way too young to start a family. 

WALSH: So what I’m saying is that the problem is not, per se, teenage pregnancy — it’s unwed pregnancy. That’s the problem in society. It’s only problematic when you are not married and you don’t have the man there to help you take care of the kids because he’s a coward.

… 

What I’m saying, though, is that if society was, if society was different and that we stopped insisting that you’re a kid until you’re 25 and we just deal with the reality that at about 16, you’re an adult who is mature and can make decisions — you are that at 16. I don’t care what anybody says. And if you’re going to tell me it’s different, well, then how come for the first 10,000 years of human civilization, that’s the way it was? It’s just recently where all of a sudden we’re all r——- until we’re 25?

And I got some more news for you. 17-year-old girls and 18-year-old girls that are still in high school, just getting into college, many of them want, biologically and metaphysically and with everything in their body, they want to settle down, they want to start a family, and that’s always gonna be that way, no matter what you do.

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): And I think a good example as to why that’s probably true is the whorish behavior of these same-aged girls when they get to college.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: There are some sluts.

MURR: They start, you know, these girls — believe me, when I went to the University of Maryland and I was a little bit older than everybody, it was like you get there and you see these innocent girls and by the end of the year, it’s just like the stories you’ve heard about them — it’s like this internal need to breed and it just comes out at the wrong time. They’re out there trying to get an education, but meanwhile —

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: To biology, that’s the perfect time. That’s when they’re, like Matt said, is most fertile. But society has told you that when you’re 18, that’s when you’re an adult, not when you’re 16 or 17.

WALSH: Yeah, and that’s a problem.

Walsh has repeatedly defended sexualization or sexual abusers of children in the more recent past, saying of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal that “the problem is not pedophilia; the problem is gay priests” and saying that the response to a sexual abuse scandal in the Boy Scouts of America was “a lesson to us all” that “surrendering to the Left” will lead to being “completely obliterated.” 

Walsh initially defended Josh Duggar after the reality TV star was accused of sexual abuse of children, minimizing the allegations before later issuing a retraction once it came to light that Duggar had also cheated on his wife as an adult. The Daily Wire host has also minimized the #MeToo movement, suggesting that it’s “a hysterical witch hunt” and saying that women who feel violated after casual sex “consented to, and participated in, [their] own degradation.”

Matt Walsh’s racist worldview: “As the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.”

As a radio DJ, Matt Walsh promoted the racist great replacement theory, expressing anxiety about “the extinction of the Anglo-Saxon race” and saying that “as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): It is because we’re all dying off. Yes. That’s what the problem is. It’s not that, it’s not that we’re just, as the Mexicans come in, we magically meld with them and become like them. It’s not like that. It’s that we are dying off just like, just like any other species of animal does. We’re dying. And the way that animals — there’s two ways that animals die off. Well, three ways. One is disease. Two is deforestation, or they lose their habitat, which OK, look at us. And then the third one is that they stop reproducing. And those — and usually all three of those things happen kind of simultaneously. And that’s what’s happening with us. The extinction of the Anglo-Saxon race is just like that.

The Western white race is not having kids. They’re just not. That’s why before, 10 years ago, was like the average family was, whatever it was, 2.3 kids, now it’s 1.-something. I mean, we’ve lost a whole kid in 10 years. And, I mean, you just can’t survive when you refuse to have kids.

When the Mexican people come here, which is fine that they want to come, as long as they come legally, which most of them aren’t, but they bring with them — being that they’re a different culture, a different race, and everything else — they bring with them a identity, and they bring it to America. And so as the Anglo-Saxons, which were the original Americans, die off, our identity and our culture goes with it. Now, China and Japan and Korea and Vietnam and Egypt, all those countries, for thousands of years, have got to keep their identity and their culture. They’ve been allowed to preserve it, whereas ours is dying off in less than 200 years.

At other times, Walsh performed racist impressions of Black men, including calling Barack Obama Elementary School and pretending to be a father trying to enroll his son in the school. He pretended to have heard that the school was lenient with its grades, saying while posing as a Black man that Obama’s “main principle was that just cause you ain’t put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be supplied with it.”

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): Yeah, but let me put you on the spot right quick, because what is y’all honoring about my man Barack Obama?

EMPLOYEE: Well, just in terms of, they named the school after him, you know, and inside the school, they, you know, have pictures of him and they probably teach the students, you know, some of who he is. But overall, this, it’s still a regular school. You know, it’s not a school that — overall, the school is still run like the other schools are run. 

WALSH: OK. But it just seemed to me that the way that he would want to run it, you know, was similar to the way that he would want to run the health care and the economy, whatnot. Well, he want to make sure that, you know, I mean, just because you ain’t worked for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t get it. I mean, you feel me on that, right? 

EMPLOYEE: Um — 

WALSH: Well, just because — just cause you ain’t really put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be supplied with it, because that’s a right that we have as Americans. 

EMPLOYEE: Well yeah, there are certain rights that we have, right? 

WALSH: Yeah. We got, I mean, I got a right. I mean, my kid got a right as an American to really get good grades in school and whatnot. You know, he’s got a right to that.

Yeah, but y’all’s, y’all Barack Obama Elementary, you know, I mean, which — which makes me presume the fact that y’all follow his principles, you know, his guiding principles and whatnot. 

EMPLOYEE 2: Yeah.

WALSH: His, his main principle was that just cause you ain’t put in the work for something don’t mean that you shouldn’t be supplied with it, because that’s the equal right that all Americans have, you know? So I want to make sure that I bring my kid over to you. You know, he can do his thing laid back, you know, but he still gonna be supplied with the grades, same as, you know, his big pops, hat would be me, you know, I’m going to be supplied with the checks, the government checks and whatnot. You know, just because I ain’t currently working don’t mean that I shouldn’t be supplied with it, you know? 

EMPLOYEE 2: Exactly. 

WALSH: So. So would that be the way you y’all run things, like maybe everybody, you know, they do their own thing, they get their own grades at the end of the semester or whatever how y’all partition it. They, you put all the grades in one pool and then, y’all split — 

EMPLOYEE 2: No, all kids. I mean. No. 

WALSH: So you telling me–

EMPLOYEE 2: You said in one pool? 

WALSH: Yeah. Yeah. You put all the grades together, you average it out, and then everyone get that average so that it’s really a team effort, you know what I mean? And everyone get the same thing because no one really has the right to be above no one else, especially when they kids. Right? 

EMPLOYEE 2: Well, all kids are treated equally. 

WALSH: Yeah, so. But how, but that ain’t the way in the school now. The school he at now right, he ain’t being treated equally. You know? Because he getting a E, he failing out while other people, you know, was getting A’s and passing on. My man on the second grade twice now, you know, and other people, they in fourth grade by now. So that ain’t equal. You know, I’m looking for some real equality. And I knew that when I saw Barack Obama Elementary was open and I said, now my man is going to supply me with what I’m looking for, because my man’s gonna run school the way he run the economy, the way he run health care — where he said, everybody’s going to get it whether you work for or not. You’re going to get it. 

EMPLOYEE 2: Well, no, he’s not in charge of the school.

Since this video, Walsh has said that white supremacists “don’t exist, for the most part” and the great replacement conspiracy theory is “just a fact.” Walsh has expressed doubt that racism exists and said that “when a white person says that all white people are inherently racist, all he’s really done is confess to being personally racist.” Walsh has also attacked Muslims, deriding them as “easily provoked,” and suggesting that “every mass attacker is Muslim.” One video from The Matt and Crank Program shows Walsh wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt.

Matt Walsh’s sexually demeaning workplace stunts: “I think we should shock you in the ass” 

At The Matt and Crank Program, Walsh appears to have sexually harassed someone at least posing as his employee (named only “Intern A” on camera), demanding that his subordinate remove his pants and allow Walsh to use a taser on his exposed butt despite multiple protestations.

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): I would never usually suggest that a man expose his buttocks to me. … Well, here’s a serious suggestion. Why don’t we seriously shock you in the ass? Got a lot of padding in there. A lot of muscle … lot of muscle in that ass, boy.

INTERN A: You don’t want me to pull it out.

ANDREW MURR (CO-HOST): Yeah, I don’t either. I really don’t. I think we should just go.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Hear me out. For the comedy of it, and also because that will hurt the least, I think we should shock you in the ass, at least at first.

INTERN: I think we should shock you.

WALSH: No, I don’t like that idea. What I do like is shocking you in the ass. So get over here.

INTERN: You’re not shocking my butt. 

MURR: And I do want you to put the old hardhat on. There we go. Does he not look amazing now?

WALSH: I’ll shock you in the stomach. All right? I’ll shock you in the stomach. Are you ready for this?

INTERN: No! No. I am not ready for this. 

MURR: I’m ready.

INTERN: This is not cool!

MURR: I’m totally ready for this.

WALSH: This is cool.

MURR: Matt, are you ready?

WALSH: I’m totally ready.

MURR: I’m totally ready. 

WALSH: As long as we’re ready, that’s all that matters.

MURR: That’s all that matters.

WALSH: Should I press it? Hold on a sec.

INTERN: Whoa. Oh no!

WALSH: Hold up. I’m not hitting it yet, I’m not hitting it, I’m not hitting it, but should I put it up against him like this? And then do it — is that how you do it?

(CROSSTALK)

INTERN: Oh, my God, I thought you were my friend.

CRANK: We are. That’s why we’re doing it.

WALSH: This is for your own good. This is for your own good, intern.

INTERN: I love you so much I’m hurting you.

WALSH: This hurts you more than it hurts me.

MURR: Yes it does. Oh God. I’m tingly with anticipation.

WALSH: One, two, three, go!

INTERN: Ow!

MURR: Did it shock you too?

WALSH: Wait, I only got like half a second.

INTERN: That’s all you’re supposed to get.

WALSH: Let’s try it one more time.

INTERN: That hurts.

MURR: You want me to hold onto you while we do it?

INTERN: That hurts.

MURR: Do you want me to hold onto you while we do it?

WALSH: Let’s try one more time. I dropped it. I didn’t get a good one.

INTERN: Not in the stomach anymore, because that hurts.

WALSH: All right, we’ll do it in the uhh —

INTERN: Chesticle.

WALSH: All right, in the chest. But this time we’re going in for the real thing!

INTERN: Wait, just do it in the arm. One, two, three, go.

WALSH: Hold on, hold on.

INTERN: Go! Ow!

WALSH: How bad does it hurt? Describe it.

INTERN: It’s like being muscle tenched.

MURR: What?

(Intern reaches for stun gun)

WALSH: Muscle tenched? I’m not giving you this thing, dude.

INTERN: Was it good for radio? You want to do it in the butt?

WALSH: I do, kind of. Let’s just try it once in the ass. Turn around. Ready?

MURR: I don’t even know if we can put this on the blog site.

WALSH: You’ve got a pimply, pale ass, bro.

INTERN: Go! Ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow! All right, we’re done. That’s it. All right, good radio. You’re welcome, Delmarva. You’re welcome.

This was part of a series of videos of Walsh, Murr, the intern, and another man called “Tater” participating in a series of fraternity-style challenges, sometimes involving sexually suggestive behavior. In another video, “Intern A” was dressed in a diaper, wrestling a man who gave his name as “Tater.” In a video called “Intern A Earns His Name,” the titular intern was encouraged to lick the inside of a dumpster.

MATT WALSH (CO-HOST): He’s going to lick the inside of this dumpster. This dumpster has not been licked in years. So what it’s going to be is he’s going to sort of kneel down, put his tongue against the wall and then stand up.

A further video available on the old YouTube channel for Matt and Crank showed “the intern” washing a car in underwear while disco music played.

According to one report, Walsh announced his departure from The Matt and Crank Program just hours after recording his final episode on Monday, August 1, 2011, claiming that he wouldn’t be allowed to do further shows to say goodbye. The next day, he announced a two-week hiatus that he walked back the day after to let fans know that he’d be taking a job at WGMD, a smaller station in the region where he would work for less than a year. In December 2013 Walsh announced that he was “leaving radio forever” to spend more time with his blog. While Walsh spun this as voluntary, critics reported that WLAP’s programming director had said that the show had been canceled. After a period of time joining Matt at WGMD, reports say Walsh’s co-host returned to WZBH through 2015.

Additional Research by  JASON CAMPBELLMIA GINGERICH & ALEX PATERSON

*******************

Ari Drennen is the LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, where she has worked since January 2022. She has a bachelors degree in political science and economics from Middlebury College. Previously she worked at the Center for American Progress and the League of Conservation Voters

*******************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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Minnesota

‘Nonpartisan’ Minnesota group launches ‘parental rights’ effort

The group rallied in front of the Minnesota state capitol caring signs with crossed out images of Pride flags and “CRT”

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Minnesota Parents Alliance Rally August 2022 (Screenshot/YouTube)

MINNEAPOLIS – A new group in Minnesota, the Minnesota Parents Alliance, claiming to be nonpartisan has launched an effort to gain “parental rights” on state school boards, partnering with anti-LGBTQ organizations and endorsing candidates who denounce Pride flags and critical race theory. 

The group, which was launched in February, says it’s a “statewide, non-partisan, parent-focused organization” that vows to ensure “every parent who wants to get involved in their child’s education has every resource they need to do so successfully.” According to the group’s website, its goal is to “[educate] and [empower] Minnesota parents to effectively engage in their school community as strong advocates for academic achievement, equality, and parental rights.”

“The parent movement is alive and well in Minnesota,” the Minnesota Parents Alliance tweeted ahead of its launch in February. “We’ve got work to do in ’22.”

However, the Minnesota Parents Alliance lists several Conservative groups under its “helpful organizations” tab, including the Child Protection League – which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The Child Protection League generated extensive media coverage earlier this year after the Becker School District Board signed off on a plan to allow the organization to present the “other side” of the LGBTQ rights debate.

In August, according to MPR News, supporters of the group rallied in front of the Minnesota state capitol, some caring signs with crossed out images of Pride flags and “CRT” – referring to critical race theory, a graduate-level academic academic framework centering on the idea of systemic racism in the nation’s institutions. Critical race theory has become a buzzword in Conservative circles, encompassing any teaching of race and American history in schools.

Once a political after-thought, school boards in recent years have become a battleground over critical race theory, transgender inclusion and LGBTQ-themed books considered to be “inappropriate,” or even “pornographic.”

The organization has backed over 100 candidates for Minnesota school board in its “voter guide,” which states that the group “identifies and endorses school board candidates across the state who are aligned with our mission of prioritizing academic achievement, equality and parental rights in their school district.” 

The Los Angeles Blade reviewed the list of candidates, finding a lack of racial diversity. According to headshots on the group’s website – though several candidates are without identifying photos – the group has largely backed white candidates. Over one-fifth of the state’s population is represented by racial or ethnic minority groups, according to the latest U.S. Census data

The Minnesota Parents Alliance has not responded to multiple interview requests from the Blade. 

At the Aug. 4 rally, the group’s founder, Cristine Trooien, said her organization has been contacted by Democratic voters wanting to partner with the group. “[They say], ‘I am a left-leaning voter, I have always voted for Democratic candidates and what is going on in our schools right now is just unacceptable,’” she said, per MPR News.

“I think we saw last year a lot of inflammatory things happening at school board meetings and that’s not getting us anywhere,” Trooien said. “Dedicated school board members? That’s going to get us somewhere.” 

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