Months after University of Missouri Assistant Professor Melissa Click became the subject of national derision for blocking student photojournalists in a viral video of a campus protest, she is in the spotlight again for screaming a profanity at police officers during a protest.
In the latest video, obtained by the Columbia Missourian and released on Saturday, Click is seen protesting with students at the University of Missouri’s homecoming parade last October. Protesters — part of the Concerned Student 1950 movement, which seeks to expose racism on campus — blocked a vehicle carrying then-system President Tim Wolfe in an effort to get him to address their concerns.
In the video, as police officers arrive to move protesters from the road, Click gets in between officers and protesters and tells the officers to “back up,” multiple times. The video captures Click yelling “Get your fucking hands off me,” as the officer moves her onto the sidewalk.
In a statement released this weekend, Interim Chancellor Hank Foley criticized Click’s actions in the video.
“Her conduct and behavior are appalling, and I am not only disappointed, I am angry, that a member of our faculty acted this way,” Foley said in the statement. “Her actions caught on camera last October, are just another example of a pattern of misconduct by Dr. Click — most notably, her assault on one of our students while seeking ‘muscle’ during a highly volatile situation on Carnahan Quadrangle in November.”
Click, who teaches mass media in the Department of Communication, had demanded the student photojournalist, Mark Schierbecker, leave a public protest area and when he refused, she walked away yelling, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
The MU Board of Curators suspended Click earlier this year with pay and announced that the university’s General Counsel would conduct an investigation into her actions. Click was also charged with third-degree assault, but reached a deal with prosecutors last month to avoid jail time by completing 20 hours of community service.
Foley ended the statement by saying he will “address these new revelations with the Board of Curators as they work to complete their own review of the matter.”
Click apologized for her language and said the officer’s force was unexpected in a statement released by Status Labs, an online reputation management firm, according to the Washington Post.
“I was drawn to stand in solidarity with these students because of their moving message of racial exclusion and the angry responses of the onlookers,” Click said in the statement. “While my inexperience with civic actions led to some mistakes, I feel this video depicts my desire to support marginalized MU students.”
Click also criticized Foley’s statement, saying that “his comments create a biased environment that will make it difficult to receive fair treatment through the due process that MU policy affords all faculty.”
The situation with Click and race-related protests spurred by the 1950 Concerned Student group have sparked reactions in the Missouri statehouse as well.
Last week, the House Committee for Higher Education Appropriations voted to stop a funding increase of $26.8 million for the University of Missouri due to the negative national attention the university received, said state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger. In particular, Lichtenegger, who serves as chair of the committee, pointed to Click’s continued employment at the university and the Board of Curators’ failure to stop a protest during a recent meeting.
“[Students] are there to learn, not to protest all day long,” Lichtenegger had said. “I thought we learned that lesson in the ‘60s. Obviously we haven’t.”
In a blog post on Tuesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education criticized the committee’s actions, saying that the organization opposes “attempts by elected officials to stifle discussion at public universities by threatening their funding.”
“While we take no position on the merits of the student protests at Mizzou, we are always pleased to see students exercise their right to free speech,” the post said.
About 115 Missouri lawmakers called on the university to fire Click earlier this year, arguing she “failed to meet the obligations she has to her supervisors, fellow professors, University students, and the taxpayers of Missouri.”
The video also prompted state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would require students to complete a free speech course before graduating from a public two-year or four-year higher education institution in Missouri.
State lawmakers have also introduced the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act that would restrict administrative censorship by protecting student journalists’ right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media.
Click has since apologized for her actions in the first video and resigned her courtesy appointment with the Missouri School of Journalism. Last week, she broke her silence in an interview with KBIA, an NPR affiliate, where she said she wishes she had a “more respectful conversation” with Schierbecker, but she doesn’t think her career “should be judged by one mistake.”