Last Updated on December 20, 2020
Hundreds of young conservatives were barred from attending TPUSA’s SAS conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday night due to COVID restrictions.
Young conservatives from all across the country were ready to attend Turning Point USA’s annual Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida. The three day agenda listed speeches from Congressman Matt Gaetz, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Trump lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump Jr.
Attendees who arrived to TPUSA’s conference early were able to get in, however, some attendees then began receiving text messages from pranksters claiming to be TPUSA, saying that “due to covid restrictions, you have been unregistered for SAS.” This created confusion from attendees, who believed that TPUSA themselves were making the decision to shut them down.
At the time of writing, National File understands that the edict was not issued by TPUSA themselves, but either by Keith James, the Mayor of West Palm Beach, or Verdenia Baker, the Palm Beach County Adminstrator, who decided to limit the number of people inside to far fewer than thousands that the event usually attracts every year.
The Blaze’s Elijah Schaffer livestreamed the angry crowds outside SAS. One attendee told National File that the waiting crowds stretched all the way to a second building, and noted that some people had claimed health officials and police officers were directly turning people away from the event.
BREAKING: TPUSA students are being blocked from entering their national conference in Florida by the mayor https://t.co/4bVFrnOqMt
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) December 19, 2020
WEST PALM BEACH: Hundreds of TPUSA attendees chant “LET US IN” as the event has reached max capacity
This is not an error by TPUSA, apparently the city is only allowing a certain amount of people inside the convention center with armed police officers guarding the door pic.twitter.com/FGMulUNZhO
— Drew Hernandez (@DrewHLive) December 19, 2020
Some attendees who were refused entry decided to march on city hall in protest at the COVID regulations.
— Trevor Bills (@dinosaurtrevor) December 20, 2020
Although the office of West Palm Beach Mayor is officially a nonpartisan position, James is a Democrat. He endorsed former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for President, and campaigned with Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden in July.
“Left-wing local government officials are doing everything they can to interrupt business and destroy our economy In Florida,” Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini told National File. Sabatini, who will be attending the conference on Saturday, said he plans to file legislation next month to “stop their destruction and games.”
Update: The original story noted that TPUSA sent some attendees a text message claiming they had been unregistered. However, Schaffer tweeted later that he had spoken to pranksters who had sent the “scam” text messages, and noted they were “afraid” of coming forward and admitting to the joke after it made headlines. “TPUSA is not blocking anyone from entering,” he confirmed.
IMPORTANT: @TPUSA is NOT unregistering participants who were blocked by the mayor and PD from coming into the event
The people responsible for the scam were “afraid” of admitting the joke after it went too far & made local headlines
TPUSA is not blocking anyone from entering
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) December 20, 2020
Update: TPUSA have brought speakers to the crowd outside, including Donald Trump Jr, allowing the attendees who were blocked from entry to listen to them. Tyler Bower, the COO of TPUSA, said that the organisation is “doing everything we humanly can to make it available to everyone.”
— Austin Smith (@ChairmanAustin) December 20, 2020
We are out here with @DonaldJTrumpJr bringing SAS outside to the crowd that the county leftists are trying to keep out of #SAS2020– we are doing everything we humanly can to make it available to everyone.
— Tyler Bowyer (@conservatyler) December 20, 2020
Update: According to a statement attributed to the Palm Beach County Administrator, the venue agreed to allow 2,000 people inside. Many more attendees arrived and registered and paid the same-day rate, according to sources close to TPUSA. While the County Administrator’s potential role in limiting the crowd size is unknown, a local journalist seemed to indicate they were behind the decision.
However, National File understands from attendees inside the conference that the centre seemed empty, with attendees doubting the 2,000 person maximum had actually been reached. One attendee described the crowd allowed into the building as “sparse.” Public records also show that the PBC convention centre where the event is taking place has a maximum capacity of 6,500.
Some attendees called the crackdown illogical and capricious, while another observer pointed out the crowding outside “defeated the whole purpose,” and “made the county look absurd.” National File has reached out to the Mayor’s Office and the County Administrators for clarification as to each of their roles in the restrictions.
Update: In a tweet, Bowyer said that there was no capacity requirement in the original contract signed by TPUSA. According to Bowyer, Palm Beach County current restrictions would require a 50% capacity level, however, the convention centre is imposing “beyond” current requirements for the venue.
There was no capacity requirement in the contract. When we signed the original contract, it was for full capacity.
Currently palm beach county is at phase 2 — 50% capacity— County Convention Center is imposing beyond recent phase 2 requirements for the venue. https://t.co/SNP0PGi0aR
— Tyler Bowyer (@conservatyler) December 20, 2020