University Of Missouri Protests: Clash With Media A ‘Teachable Moment’
The communications professor at the University of Missouri who was highly criticized for her altercation with journalists on campus during the celebration of the resignation of the school president issued a public apology.Advertisement
Melissa Click said her behavior, shown in a video where she could be seen leading a group of students trying to block journalists from getting access to the area where activists were, was inappropriate. She said that the altercation occurred on a day that was “full of emotion and confusion.”
In a statement Click said, “I have reached out to the journalists involved to offer my sincere apologies and to express regret over my actions. I regret the language and strategies I used, and sincerely apologize to the MU campus community, and journalists at large, for my behavior, and also for the way my actions have shifted attention away from the students’ campaign for justice. My actions were shaped by exasperation with a few spirited reporters.”
Tim Tai, a student photographer who was prevented by Click and students from taking pictures of the demonstrations, received an apology from Click. Confirming the apology, Tai said that Click was “very gracious.” According to the Huffington Post, he said, “I don’t have — and never had — bad feelings against her and feel bad that she’s been receiving threats and other nasty messages. I wish she had handled the situation differently, but as a journalist it really just became part of the scene I was presented with and I never took her or anyone else’s actions personally.”
Meanwhile, the head of the journalism department, David Kurpius, spoke highly of Tai for the way he handled the situation when he tried to take pictures of the protests despite his access being blocked “though physical and vertical intimidation.” In a statement, Kurpius said, “Tai handled himself professionally and with poise.”
The encounter between journalists and activists first occurred Monday, when media arrived at the quad after the resignation of the university system’s president, Tim Wolfe. Wolfe’s resignation came over lack of proper action taken against racial abuse incidents on campus. The demonstrations were led by a group called Concerned Student 1950, who pushed back activists rather than allowing media and journalists to document their protests.
A protective ring was formed around the area where the protesters were stationed. Tai, a senior at the university’s journalism school, took pictures despite being blocked by the group of students. Click, who led this group of students, received personal threats after the video that showed her altercation with journalists was released. This subsequently led to the cancellation of her classes on Tuesday.
Signs put up by activists asking journalists to not enter the area were also removed. Flyers were distributed that said the altercation with the media was a teachable moment. The flyer, which can be viewed in this tweet, said, “Media has a 1st amendment right to occupy campsite,” and that it is “important to tell our story and experiences at Mizzou to the world.”