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Congressman praises heckling of war protesters, including one who made monkey gestures toward black woman

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Israel-Hamas war protests at the University of Mississippi turned sour this week when a counter-protester appeared to make monkey noises and gestures toward a black student during a noisy rally supported by a far-right party. congressman from Georgia.

“Ole Miss takes care of business,” Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Collins wrote Friday on the social platform X with a link to the video showing the racist jeers.

The Associated Press left voicemails for Collins on Friday at his offices in Georgia and Washington and sent an email to his spokesperson, asking for an explanation of what Collins meant. There was no immediate response.

The taunts drew sharp criticism on and off campus.

“The students were demanding an end to the genocide. They faced racism. James M. Thomasprofessor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, wrote on X on Friday.

Reverend Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, wrote on has nothing to do with ‘Stand with Israel’ or ‘Free Palestine.’ This is protest as performative racism.

Collins was first elected to Congress in 2022 and has made several social media posts criticizing campus protests.

No one was arrested at Thursday’s protest at the University of Mississippi, where the hecklers far outnumbered the war protesters. According to an AP tally, more than 2,400 arrests have taken place on 46 U.S. college or university campuses since April 17 during anti-war protests.

Student newspaper The Daily Mississippian reported that about 30 protesters on the Oxford campus ran as UMiss for Palestine. Videos and photos from the event showed protesters were in a grassy area near the main library, blocked by barriers erected by campus security.

They chanted “free and free Palestine” and carried Palestinian flags and signs with slogans such as “Stop the genocide” and “American bombs are taking lives in Palestine.”

Student journalist Stacey J. Spiehler shot video showing campus police officers and the dean of students standing between anti-war protesters and hecklers. After the black woman protesting the war got into what appeared to be a heated exchange of words with several white hecklers, one of the men made monkey gestures and noises at her.

About 76% of the university’s students were white and about 11% were Black in 2022-23, the most recent data available on the school’s website.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the school is committed to people expressing their opinions. He said some statements made on campus Thursday were “offensive and unacceptable.”

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves reposted a video on X showing counterprotesters on campus singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“It warms my heart,” Reeves wrote. “I love Mississippi!”


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