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TPUSA president alleges assault at Democratic Socialists of America meeting in Frist

<h6>Photo Credit: Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Photo Credit: Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian

The president of the University chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative non-profit youth organization, has alleged assault at a meeting of the Central New Jersey chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in Frist Campus Center.

Riley Heath ’20 claims he was assaulted on Jan. 19 when Matthew Golden, who is not a student at the University, allegedly rammed his shoulder into Heath. Heath claims the collision caused him to hit his head on a nearby doorway and gave him a laceration on his forehead, for which he later received 10 stitches.

Others in attendance denied that an assault took place when the Department of Public Safety was called to the scene, according to the police report obtained by The Daily Princetonian.

In the report, DPS wrote that “there was no probable cause to execute an arrest” based on the findings of the DPS officers at the scene.

According to Deputy University Spokesperson Mike Hotchkiss, DPS has since concluded its investigation. Heath indicated that he wanted to file a criminal complaint against Golden and DPS advised him on how to do so.

On Jan. 24, Heath filed a certification in support of probable cause to the Mercer County Municipal Court, attempting to charge Golden with assault and disorderly persons offense.

Golden and his attorney have yet to respond to multiple requests for comment at the time of publication. The Central New Jersey DSA declined to comment on the incident.

According to Heath, he and fellow TPUSA officer Andrew Tufillaro ’22 attended the meeting “just to hear them out, listen and learn about them.”

“We didn’t go to be disruptive,” Tufillaro said. “We just went to sit down, have a conversation.”

The alleged assault was not the first moment of tension between Heath and other DSA members during the meeting. Heath claimed that earlier in the meeting, he pulled out his phone to take a photo on Snapchat of a DSA poster. The individual in charge told Heath that taking photos during the meeting was not allowed, and Heath claimed he promptly put his phone down.

When the meeting broke out into smaller groups, with one group leaving for the East Asian Library, Heath and Tufillaro attempted to join the group in the library, according to an audio recording taken by Heath and obtained by the ‘Prince.’ Members of the DSA attempted to persuade Heath to leave, saying he had violated their no-photo policy.

According to the recording, Heath insisted that the DSA members could not prevent him from entering the library. He insisted he was not there to be provocative.

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“We haven’t been disruptive or anything,” Heath said on the recording. “I could be if you want me to but I’m not going to.”

One of the members asked that they leave, allegedly touching Heath on the chest.

When Heath attempted to enter the library, Golden allegedly attempted to block the door. As Heath attempted to go around him through the door, Heath claimed Golden shouldered him into a corner of the doorway.

According to the recording, after Heath made contact with the door, Golden immediately said that Heath “walked into that.”

“You just assaulted the f*** out of me, dude,” Heath said in response.

The recording is unclear as to whether or not Heath was pushed.

When DPS officers responded at 12:27 p.m. after a student at the front desk phoned DPS, the incident was over, according to Hotchkiss. After speaking to multiple people who were at the scene, the officers decided against making any arrests.

DPS officers transported Heath to McCosh Health Center and then to Princeton Medical Center after the meeting, where he received 10 stitches for a sizable laceration on his forehead.

Although the Central New Jersey DSA is not affiliated with the University, the meeting took place in Frist 309 at noon after secretary of Princeton Young Democratic Socialists of America Alec Israeli ’21 reserved the room, according to the schedule listed on the door that day. However, according to Heath and Tufillaro, primarily non-students attended the meeting.

Israeli declined to comment on the incident.

The group has also previously held meetings on campus.

Since the alleged incident, Charlie Kirk, founder of TPUSA, posted a picture of Heath on his Twitter account, reiterating Heath’s claims and claiming the incident was “Another crime of violence against conservative Trump supporters.”

Heath visited another meeting of the DSA near campus on March 23 where he confronted Ayesha Mughal, co-chair of the Central New Jersey DSA. In a video of the incident, Heath repeatedly asks the DSA members why they “thought it was funny” he was injured. He also repeatedly compared the red armbands worn by DSA members to those worn by Nazis throughout the confrontation.

Heath recorded the video, which he provided to the ‘Prince.’

Mughal has yet to respond to request for comment.

According to Heath’s video, Mughal responded to Heath by leading him through the DSA’s policy points, such as Medicare for All. Heath expressed frustration with her, claiming she was not answering his question about his own alleged assault.

Heath was later asked to leave the scene when members of the DSA called the police.