A lecturer at the University of Virginia has agreed to take leave after comparing the Black Lives Matter movement to the Ku Klux Klan on social media, according to the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The comment posted by Douglas Muir, an adjunct lecturer at the engineering school and the Darden School of Business has also prompted a Charlottesville city councilman to call for residents to boycott Muir’s restaurant.
On Tuesday, Charlottesville real estate agent Roger Voisinet wrote a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter, and Muir left a comment on the post stating that “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organisation (sic) since the clan. (sic) Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!” The comment has since been deleted.
A statement from the engineering school issued Friday night said that “while free speech and open discussion are fundamental principles of our nation and the university, Mr. Muir’s comment was entirely inappropriate. U.Va. Engineering does not condone actions that undermine our values, dedication to diversity and educational mission.”
U.Va. Provost Tom Katsouleas said the university “stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind. … This position in no way squelches academic freedom, which welcomes dissent and encourages the voices of others whose perspectives may differ from ours — thereby adding new insights to our own. But statements such as Mr. Muir’s do not foster intellectual exploration, nor do they encourage the voices of others.”
In a tweet Friday, the Darden School also distanced itself from Muir’s comment. Muir could not immediately be reached Friday.
The original post referred to an event Tuesday night at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater that featured a series of speakers addressing the issue of injustice. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza was one of the presenters and spoke to the audience on the topics of white privilege, the struggle of black Americans and the focus of the movement.
“Black Lives Matter aims to end state-sanctioned violence once and for all,” Garza said at the event. “We are fighting for the sanctity and dignity of all of us, and not just for black men. We are fighting for black women, black queer people, black trans people, immigrants and the disabled community.”
When Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy heard about Muir’s comment, he took to social media and called Muir out for his comments.
“How can you compare people standing up for justice to the KKK, who have unapologetically hung many African-Americans?” Bellamy said. “They are outright and blatantly racist, and when you look at Black Lives Matter, that’s white people, Latino people, Asian people and young and old people. It’s a collective call to bring people together to face systemic oppression.”
“Comparing that to the KKK shows me how culturally incompetent some people can be,” he said. “It shows me how much work we need to do in this country.”
On his Instagram account, Bellamy also asked people to boycott Muir’s business, Bella’s Restaurant, to drive home the message.