Mizzou professor fights back as new protest video intensifies criticism
Video of University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click yelling at police during a student protest has escalated calls for her ouster.
Daniel Brenner/Columbia Daily Tribune/AP/File
Suspended University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click's effort to fight calls for her ouster were complicated on Saturday, when the school's newspaper released footage of Dr. Click cursing at police during a student protest in October.
Interim Chancellor Hank Foley called Click's conduct "appalling" and said that the videos suggest a "pattern of misconduct" warranting a review from the school's Board of Curators. "I am not only disappointed, I am angry, that a member of our faculty acted this way," Dr. Foley said in a Sunday statement.
The video, from October 10, records a student protest during Mizzou's homecoming parade, as students in a weeks-long movement pushing the administration to address allegations of racial bias on campus physically blocked then-System President Tim Wolfe's vehicle.
Click, who was watching the parade with her children and husband, also a professor at the university's flagship Columbia campus, joined the protest. As police pushed protesters to the sidewalk, she attempted to shield a student activist, and yelled "get your hands off the children." She is heard cursing at police as an officer grabs her shoulder.
The campus Missourian newspaper released the video on Saturday, after obtaining it through an open records request.
Click has already received national attention, and been suspended from her university job, after a video of her calling for some "muscle" to block a student journalist from demonstrators at a student protest on November 9 went viral.
Students, concerned about months of racial incidents at the Columbia campus, such as the discovery of a swastika, allegedly threatening behavior involving a Confederate flag, and the use of racial slurs, had set up camp in a school quadrangle, where a group calling itself Concerned Student 1950 called for campus-wide reforms. Then-Chancellor Dr. R. Bowen Loftin and then-System President Wolfe both resigned in November.
In that video, filmed by student journalist Mark Schierbecker, Click is heard yelling for "some muscle" to remove him from an area where protesters were trying to create a student-only zone away from the media.
Earlier that day, Mr. Schierbecker had filmed another student journalist, Tim Tai, as protesters yelled for him to go. "The First Amendment protects your right to be here and mine," Mr. Tai said, as students yelled "Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go."
As footage of the incidents made national headlines, some student leaders encouraged protesters with hostile attitudes toward journalists, whom they viewed as outsiders, to change their view:
In early January, more than 110 Republicans in the Missouri Congress called for the administration to fire Click. Columbia Prosecutor Steve Richey filed misdemeanor assault charges against her, as Schierbecker, the student videojournalist, pushed for her ouster. Mr. Richey has since said that the charges will be dropped if Click completes community service.
She was suspended from her university job and temporarily banned from campus on January 27. Click resigned a courtesy position at Mizzou's School of Journalism after a former associate dean filed a Title IX complaint against her.
More than 100 Mizzou faculty have signed a letter defending Click's record of teaching and research. Click, who says she has received death threats, argues that the push to fire her over two incidents is "dangerous for everybody else on campus, too." She has said that her confrontation with student journalists was an effort to remove them from a specific part of the school quad, but not the entire property, and that she did not wish for violence.
The Concerned Student 1950 movement has accused administrators and state politicians of fixating on Click as a distraction from ongoing racial issues on campus, according to the Columbia Missourian, the campus newspaper.
"I deserve to be heard and I deserve to be treated fairly, and I’m going to fight to be treated fairly. I think it’s everybody’s right to be treated fairly," Click told the Missourian in an in-depth interview published Saturday, part of a sudden string of media appearances after weeks of consulting with lawyers and reputation management consultants.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.