As protests erupted across the country in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd, a black man, right-wing activist Candace Owens took to Periscope last Wednesday to smear Floyd and claim that racism “doesn’t exist as a problematic thing in this country.”
The following day, Owens appeared on a White House roundtable of black conservatives to discuss race relations with Vice President Mike Pence. By Sunday, she was banned from the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.
Owens, the founder of BLEXIT, a campaign to encourage black Americans and other minorities to leave the Democratic Party for the Republican Party, said her Periscope message was directed to “the heart of black America,” whose culture she proceeded to insult almost immediately. Citing Shelby Steele, a black conservative author at the Hoover Institution, Owens claimed that “there is something really ugly and broken about [black] culture.”
“We cater to the bottom denominator of our society,” Owens stated. “We are the only community that will get outraged and up and organized and picket and protest to defend the bottom denominator of our community, meaning criminals, burglars, robbers, criminals, anything. You commit a crime, only black Americans will be out picketing to defend the criminals. It’s not something white Americans do, Jewish Americans.”
“Over the last five years, it has become extremely fashionable for us to martyr criminals. It’s unbelievable. Not even Latinos do this,” Owens continued, before she claimed that black Americans dismiss people at the top of their community as “coons” and “Toms,” citing black conservatives Condolezza Rice, Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, and Steele as examples.
To Owens, Floyd was an example of someone at the bottom of society, who should not be held up as a martyr. “This is a man who had drugs on him, was using counterfeit bills, and was high,” she said. Pointing to Floyd’s autopsy, which showed that he had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, and to a criminal record, Owens hopped on the right-wing bandwagon smearing Floyd. “Spare me your bullshit about him being on the right track,” she said, describing Floyd as “a horrible human being.”
On Sunday, GoFundMe permanently banned Owens after she tried to raise money for an Alabama restaurant owner who called George Floyd a “thug” and Black Lives Matter protesters “idiots” and claimed his comments were inspired by Owens. A statement from GoFundMe said that Owens had violated its term of service for “a repeated pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community at a time of profound national crisis.”
While Owens continued her attack on Floyd, she told her Periscope audience that there was “no argument you’re going to hear from me that Derek Chauvin was right,” referring to the Minneapolis Police officer who killed Floyd. But that didn’t stop her from claiming that racialized police brutality was all made up.
“The whole concept of racialized police brutality is a myth. All you have to do is sit down and do basic mathematics to discover the entire narrative we’ve been sold is a lie. It’s a lie. There is no racially targeted police brutality against black Americans,” Owens continued. “The only thing we’re doing disproportionately in America is committing crimes.”
“And we’ll ally ourselves with the far-left antifa thugs, who know exactly what they’re doing,” Owens continued. “The left think we’re dumb, OK? We have to stop proving them right.”
“What do you think this is really about?” she asked. “All they care about is power, all they want to do is destroy your neighborhoods, burn them down, shut down your businesses, and get you on government dependence, at the same time poo-pooing you and telling you they’re going to fight the boogeyman of racism that doesn’t exist as a problematic thing in this country.”
This isn’t the first time Owens has suggested racism doesn’t exist.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2019, Owens claimed, “America is not a racist country,” a statement that would seemingly contradict her own experience. As a high school student in 2007, Owens accused a group of teens of racist conduct resulting in her family receiving a $37,5000 settlement. At a House hearing in 2019, Right Wing Watch reported that Owens “declared the late president Richard Nixon’s electoral ‘Southern strategy’—an appeal to white racial resentment after the passage of civil rights legislation—to be a ‘myth’ that ‘never happened.’” And In 2018, when she was the communications director of Turning Point USA, Owens was caught on film defending nationalism by claiming that the problem with Adolf Hitler was that he was too ambitious and took his plans beyond Germany.
Owens has also claimed that the response to Floyd’s death is a “media-manufactured race war.”
Her claims of antifa—a term to describe anti-facist, direct-action style protesters—echo those of President Donald Trump and his right-wing allies, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, who have repeatedly claimed that anti-fascist groups have infiltrated protests across the nation, encouraging violence and vandalism. Yet reports from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security investigating the claims against antifa instead found evidence of right-wing extremist groups aiming to increase tensions between protesters and law enforcement.