Pro-gun rights Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv apologized Thursday night for making “offensive” comments in high school, an apparent reference to newly uncovered screenshots that purport to show the star activist repeatedly using anti-black racial slurs years ago.
"We were 16-year-olds making idiotic comments, using callous and inflammatory language in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible,” Kashuv said in a statement he posted to Twitter.
Kashuv’s statement doesn’t say exactly what he’s apologizing for, but it appears to refer to years-old writing in a Google Doc and over text messages. The racial slur-filled messages, allegedly from Kashuv, have circulated among right-wing activists and Parkland students on Twitter over the past week.
One screenshot claims to show Kashuv writing the n-word more than a dozen times in a shared study guide on Google Docs.
"like im really good at typing n---er ok like practice uhhhhhh makes perfect son??!!" Kashuv allegedly wrote in a portion of the document.
In another part of the Google Doc, Kashuv allegedly wrote the same slur repeatedly, in capital letters. Kashuv also allegedly referred to black student athletes as “n---erjocks” in one text message.
Kashuv rose to fame on the right last year as the most outspoken pro-gun rights survivor of the February 2018 school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While other survivors like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez became leading supporters of gun control, Kashuv’s support for gun rights made him a darling among conservatives.
After the shooting, Kashuv met with President Trump and Melania Trump in the White House, and made frequent appearances on Fox News.
Kashuv also took a position as the high school outreach director for young pro-Trump group Turning Point USA, becoming the group’s most famous high school member and a prominent figure at its conferences. Kashuv often appeared with Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk at events, but Kashuv announced last week that he was leaving Turning Point. Kashuv’s announcement came just hours before the racial screenshots became public.
Turning Point declined to comment on Kashuv on Wednesday night. In a statement earlier this week, a Turning Point spokesman said Kashuv had left the group because he was going to college and because his contract had ended.
In his Thursday apology, Kashuv said the “callous and inflammatory” remarks were made before the shooting and that he had matured since then.
“When your classmates, your teachers, and your neighbors are killed it transforms you as a human being,” Kashuv wrote. “I see the world through different eyes and am embarrassed by the petty, flippant kid represented in those screenshots. I believe those I’ve gotten to know since know that I’m a better person than that.”
Kashuv, now a high school senior, is set to attend Harvard after graduating from Stoneman Douglas.
Kashuv’s racial slurs were criticized by a number of conservative activists on Twitter. C.J. Pearson, another prominent high school activist on the right, said Kashuv’s youth wasn’t an excuse to use racial slurs.
“This isn’t a statement that takes responsibility for the words you used,” Pearson tweeted.
This isn’t Turning Point’s first brush with racist controversy. Earlier this month, the group removed its University of Nevada-Las Vegas chapter leader after he was shown in a video yelling racial slurs. Other leaked text messages and chats from the group have shown student members making racist remarks.