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Miami University officials: Retired professor accused of racist remarks at Oxford protest

Douglas Brooks allowed to keep teaching summer online class
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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 10:38:57-04

OXFORD, Ohio - A retired Miami University professor accused of making racial slurs and inflammatory remarks to Black Lives Matter protesters on Thursday in Oxford is being criticized publicly by the school’s president and provost, according to the Journal-News.

Douglas Brooks, who is teaching a Miami summer class online, told university officials he denies making such comments, according to statements released by university officials Friday.

In his statement, Miami President Gregory Crawford said he chose "not to name the individual" but added that he would "unequivocally denounce these vile words in the strongest possible way."

In his statement, Miami Provost Jason Osborne identified Brooks and said they can't remove him from his class, so they offered students the chance to complete the course with another instructor.

"I heard many reports last evening that an individual directed racial slurs and inflammatory comments toward protesters at an off-campus location in Oxford as they were expressing their First Amendment rights about the racism, hatred and intolerance displayed in our nation," Crawford said.

“I am deeply disturbed, disheartened, and disappointed by bigoted and harmful speech reportedly directed toward our community members and our students,” said Crawford.

Osborne, who is assistant vice president for academic affairs, said Miami received reports that Brooks made "vile, hurtful, and inflammatory remarks" toward peaceful protesters.

"I personally find it inconceivable that in 2020, fifty years after we as a nation committed to building a more just and equitable society, anyone could still hold views so deeply hateful and ignorant," Osborne said.

Brooks could not be reached for comment. A bio page for the longtime Miami education professor was no longer posted on the university website.

In part of his statement, Osborne said the university can not punish anyone "for expressing their individual constitutional rights."

"We will continue to take all appropriate steps needed to protect our students and colleagues from bigoted actions, but let me clearly state that no student, staff, or faculty member can be dismissed or punished for expressing their individual constitutional rights," Osborne said.

In the same statement, Osborne said the university could address such action "according to our policies" if Brooks had been on the job as a Miami instructor at the time.

“We demand tolerance and respect in the workplace and in the classroom, and if anyone had acted as reported while executing their duties in the classroom or in the workplace, we would be able to address those actions with due process according to our policies,” Osborne said.

“All faculty, staff, and students have the right to express their personal views under the First Amendment. The same right that gives us the ability to speak out against injustice and racism gives others the right to express repugnant personal views,” said Osborne. “All of us are free to condemn views that we find objectionable, and to do so as directly and publicly as we desire. I thank each of you for publicly and privately sharing your views, concerns, and outrage with me. I am with you.”

Crawford said he is "totally devoted to (Miami's) mission and our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion," and he called on the Miami community to work to "create positive change."

"It is time for transformative change. It starts right here; right now. It starts with each of us. We must acknowledge, learn, and grow," Crawford said.

The Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO 9.