Congressman praises heckling of war protesters, including 1 who made monkey gestures at Black woman


Congressman praises heckling of war protesters, including 1 who made monkey gestures at Black woman

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Israel-Hamas war demonstrations at the University of Mississippi turned ugly this week when one counter-protester appeared to make monkey noises and gestures at a Black student in a raucous gathering that was endorsed by a far-right congressman from Georgia.

“Ole Miss taking care of business,” Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Collins wrote Friday on the social platform X with a with a link to the video showing the racist jeers.

The Associated Press left voicemail messages for Collins on Friday at his offices in Georgia and Washington and sent an email to his spokesperson, asking for an explanation of what Collins meant. There was no immediate response.

The taunting brought sharp criticism on and off campus.

“Students were calling for an end to genocide. They were met with racism,” James M. Thomas, a sociology professor at the University of Mississippi, wrote Friday on X.

The Rev. Cornell William Brooks, a former president and CEO of the NAACP and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, wrote on X that a white man mocking a Black woman as a monkey “isn’t about ‘Stand With Israel’ or ‘Free Palestine.’ This is protest as performative racism.”

Collins was first elected to Congress in 2022 and made several social media posts criticizing campus protests.

Nobody was arrested during the demonstration Thursday at the University of Mississippi, where hecklers vastly outnumbered war protesters. According to a count by AP, more than 2,400 arrests have occurred on 46 U.S. university or college campuses since April 17 during demonstrations against the war.

The student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, reported about 30 protesters on the Oxford campus billed themselves as UMiss for Palestine. Videos and photos from the event showed the protesters were in a grassy area near the main library, blocked off by barriers erected by campus security.

They chanted “Free, free Palestine,” and carried Palestinian flags and signs with slogans including, “Stop the Genocide” and “U.S. bombs take Palestine lives.”

Student journalist Stacey J. Spiehler shot video that showed campus police officers and the dean of students standing between anti-war protesters and hecklers. After the Black woman protesting the war had what appeared to be a heated exchange of words with several white hecklers, one of the men made the monkey gestures and noises at her.

About 76% of the university’s students were white and about 11% were Black in 2022-23, the most recent data available on the school’s website.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the school is committed to people expressing their views. He said some statements made on campus Thursday were “offensive and unacceptable.”

In another statement Friday, Boyce said one “student conduct investigation” had been opened and university leaders were “working to determine whether more cases are warranted.”

“To be clear, people who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus,” he said.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves reposted a video on X that showed counter-protesters on the campus singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Warms my heart,” Reeves wrote. “I love Mississippi!”


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Lily Nguyen

Lily is a sophomore in university studying journalism. She writes for the student newspaper and enjoys crafting feature articles on local artists and cultural events. Her writing is lively and colorful, filled with vivid descriptions and engaging interviews. Lily dreams of becoming a cultural correspondent, bringing lesser-known stories to the forefront.