Trinity College Reopens After Backlash From Professor’s Facebook Post

(Photo: Screenshot/trinitycollegect/YouTube)

Aislinn Murphy Assistant Managing Editor
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Trinity College reopened Thursday morning after backlash from a professor’s controversial Facebook post forced the school to shut down, reports the Hartford Courant.

The college received threats regarding social media posts by sociology professor, Johnny Eric Williams. In response, the Connecticut liberal arts school closed so that police could investigate. Trinity administrators are also looking into the posts.

“The Dean of the Faculty will review this matter and advise me on whether college procedures or policies were broken,” said Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. “I told Professor Williams that in my opinion his use of the hashtag was reprehensible and, at the very least, in poor judgement.”

The professor, Johnny Eric Williams, wrote several Facebook posts in what he claims was response to a fatal police shooting in Seattle. He has been a professor of sociology at Trinity College since 1996, teaching about race and racism.

Campus Reform, a conservative-leaning news site focused on college education, suggested Williams’ post was actually about the June 14 shooting of Republican Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and four others at a Congressional Baseball Game practice.

Prior to his social media posts, Williams shared an article from that included the same phrasing as the hashtag “#LetThemF—ingDie.” It also called for minorities to “show indifference to the lives of bigots.”

Williams’ comments prompted several politicians — including state Representatives Themis Klarides and George Logan — to demand Trinity immediately remove him from the faculty.

“They are thinking I’m talking about a Congressman,” Williams said. “That’s not the case.”

The college has not made any moves to dismiss Williams but the president did condemn his actions in a letter to the Trinity community: “No matter its intent, it goes against our fundamental values as an institution, and I believe its effect is to close minds rather than open them.”

According to Williams, people in the media twisted his words, which he maintains were not about the shooting and never intended to be made public, into something they were not. The backlash got so bad that he fled the state after receiving multiple death threats.

Following an investigation by Hartford police into “non-specific, non-credible” threats, Trinity college reopened Thursday.