Trinity Professor Flees Campus After Threats Over Facebook Comments. Issues Public Apology.
Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, reopened Thursday morning after one of its professor’s social media posts sparked outrage, followed by threats to the university. Though administrators decided that the blowback against the professor’s posts posed “no immediate threat,” Trinity reopened with “increased security” according to The Boston Globe.
The professor, Johnny Eric Williams, teaches sociology at the college. He shared a June 16 article from Medium.com on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The article was written by a man who goes by the nom de plume “Son of Baldwin” and bears the title, “Let Them F****** Die.”
Son of Baldwin’s article referenced the recent shooting of GOP Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) at a team practice the day before the Congressional Baseball Game, and pointed out that one of the security officers who took out the shooter was a “queer black woman.” The article continued by bemoaning how black people and queer people are expected to have “goodness, peace, and benevolence” toward “white/cisgender/heterosexuals,” despite the latter not displaying these virtues in kind.
It concluded by calling for black and queer people to act indifferent towards “white/cisgender/heterosexuals.” “Our indifference is the only thing that terrifies them,” it reads before finishing with a poem. The final set of 5 stanzas begins with the title, “Let them f****** die./And smile when you do./For you have done the universe a great service./Ashes to ashes./Dust to bigots.”
Williams posted the article on social media, accompanied by a hashtag, “LetThemF******Die.” This post was followed by threats directed at both him and the university. According to The Boston Globe, at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Trinity officials decided to close down the campus, and at 5:38 p.m., they announced that it would reopen on Thursday morning.
According to NBC Connecticut, Williams issued a statement to the affiliate in which he said that his post and hashtag were not meant to call for the death of a particular group of people but to start a debate. He said, “This was an admittedly provocative move to get readers to pay attention to my reasoned, reasonable, and yes angry argument.”
Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney called Williams’s inclusion of the hashtag “reprehensible” and “at the very least, in poor judgment.” She and the dean of faculty will go over the matter and see whether the school’s policy was broken. Despite the school reopening, according to The Hartford Currant, Williams has fled the state due to the death threats he received.