- The Washington Times - Monday, April 25, 2016

Melissa Click, the former University of Missouri assistant professor who was fired after she tried to block a student journalist from covering a campus protest, suggested in a recent interview that her public termination was a matter of “racial politics.”

“This is all about racial politics,” she told The Chronicle of Higher Education in an interview published Sunday. “I’m a white lady. I’m an easy target.”

Ms. Click said Missouri’s Board of Curators fired her to send a message that the university and the state wouldn’t tolerate “black people standing up to white people,” the Chronicle reported. Ms. Click didn’t elaborate on how that would explain the termination of a white woman.

The Chronicle reported that Ms. Click’s “nerves are perpetually on edge” since her firing in February, “when she began moving out of her office in the dark so she wouldn’t run into anyone.”

She was suspended and eventually fired by the university after a now-viral video showed her trying to grab a camera from student Mark Schierbecker and calling for “some muscle” to remove him from an encampment of black student protesters. An assault charge against Ms. Click was dropped when she agreed to perform 20 hours of community service.

“While Ms. Click acknowledges that she was certainly frustrated that day, she says she was simply trying to protect the black student protesters,” The Chronicle reported. “Everything she has come to stand for since the video came out — intolerance, anger, mouthiness, and dismissiveness — is exactly the opposite of who she says she really is. Focusing on her behavior, she says, is a way to take attention away from the demands of Concerned Student 1950, the group of protesters.”

“I’m not a superhero,” Ms. Click told the newspaper. “I wasn’t in charge.”

“[But] when it got out of control,” she added, “I was the one held accountable.”

“I am a woman who made some mistakes trying to do what she thought was right,” she said.

Ms. Click was finally fired after a second video showed her swearing at police trying to clear activists from blocking traffic at a homecoming parade in October. In that incident, Ms. Click linked arms with black students blocking the president’s car.

“Am I going to be one of those people who stands and watches another brutal moment against black people, or am I going to step in and make sure they’re safe?” she remembers asking herself, The Chronicle reported. “I found out that day.”

The Chronicle said a “wary” Ms. Click now spends her days mostly at home.

“She leaves the house bracing for confrontation,” The Chronicle reported. “Strangers do notice her. ‘Don’t worry,’ said a clerk at the automotive-repair shop, ‘we don’t hate you.’ Wherever she goes, there is judgment. The owner of an antique store and a greeter at the polls each told her they thought the university was wrong. Two young men she passed near the campus asked her if she needed some muscle. She considered it a threat. As she walks through downtown Columbia, an African-American man yells his support out a car window: ‘Hey, Melissa!’ (‘Black people love me,’ she tells a reporter.)”

Ms. Click said she’s planning to sue the University of Missouri for denying her due process. A GoFundMe campaign to help pay her legal bills has raised more than $13,000.

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