White House Condemns Ole Miss Counterprotesters Taunting Black Student in Video


The White House on Tuesday condemned the actions of counterprotesters at the University of Mississippi, after videos captured last week showed a crowd of white male students taunting and jeering at a female Black student at a pro-Palestinian protest.

Video clips published by the Mississippi Free Press and The Daily Mississippian showed some of the men, who had gathered to counter a pro-Palestinian protest on the school’s campus in Oxford, Miss., directing derogatory, racist and profane remarks at the Black student. One man appeared to hoot and make monkey gestures at her.

“The behavior captured in that video is undignified, and it’s just racist, period,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the first Black woman to serve as White House press secretary, during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“It is beneath anyone — anyone — to be sharing that kind of material,” she added. “The actions in the video are beneath any American, and so it is insulting to everyone who has to view it.”

At least one student now faces a conduct investigation at the university, Glenn F. Boyce, the school chancellor, said on Friday. He did not identify the student, citing privacy laws, and did not rule out the possibility of more investigations.

“Some statements made were offensive, hurtful and unacceptable, including actions that conveyed hostility and racist overtones,” he wrote in a letter to campus. He added, “People who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus.”

On Sunday, the headquarters of Phi Delta Theta fraternity said it had removed one person from its membership, adding that the “racist actions” shown in the video clip were “those of an individual and are antithetical to the values of Phi Delta Theta and the Mississippi Alpha chapter.” The fraternity also did not identify the student.

While other videos showing the counterprotesters loudly singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” were celebrated online, the videos of the taunts have been widely condemned.

Representative Mike Collins, Republican of Georgia, captioned a post with the video of the taunting as “Ole Miss taking care of business.” He later clarified in a statement that “if that person is found to have treated another human being improperly because of their race, they should be punished appropriately, and will hopefully seek forgiveness.

“Frankly, I did not believe that to be the focal point of the video shared at the time,” he said. “But I recognize that there certainly seems to be some potentially inappropriate behavior that none of us should seek to glorify.”

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