Trinity College Professor Goes Into Hiding

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A liberal arts college professor in Hartford, Connecticut who made national headlines this week after he posted several racially inflammatory comments on social media that subsequently went viral, has apparently gone into hiding.

Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams, who teaches sociology at the $70,970 per year school, “has fled the state because of the scores of death threats he has received,” the Hartford Courant reported on Thursday, days after a conservative website focusing on academia called posted the original report documenting Williams’s posts.

On Wednesday, Trinity officials ordered a campus-wide lock-down following an apparent bomb threat. Hours later, Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney released a statement declaring Williams’s online comments “reprehensible” but stopped short of announcing any disciplinary measures.

Williams told the Hartford Courant on Thursday that the fallout became too much for him and his family.

“It was overwhelming for my family,” Williams said. “I have to look out for family. I’ve got young kids.”

Trinity College officials reopened campus on Thursday morning.

“Upon consultation with the Hartford Police Department, it does not appear that there is an immediate threat to campus,” the school announced in a statement.

Williams’s social media activity included posting a link to a opinion piece in which the author called for minorities and people of color to refrain from aiding white people they suspect of being bigots during life-or-death situations, and frequently referred to last week’s shooting spree at a Virginia baseball diamond where several GOP members of Congress had gathered to practice in advance of the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

A duo of Capitol Hill Police officers, including a black lesbian officer, acted quickly to prevent the attempted massacre from resulting in any fatalities other than the shooter, identified as a leftist who was intent on killing as many Republicans as he could.

The piece, which called on minorities like heroic Capitol Hill Police Officer Crystal Griner to “Let. Them. F—ing. Die.,” apparently resonated with Williams, who shared it online and made sure to type out and include the hashtag, #LetThemF—ingDie. It was one of two posts that caught the attention of — the other post featured Williams saying he is “fed the f— up with self identified ‘white’s’ daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslim, and sexual and racially oppressed people.”

Williams has claimed the twisted his words and has maintained that his posts did not refer to the baseball practice shooting but instead to a police-involved shooting that recently occurred in Seattle.

“The black community is beside itself all over the country with the constant killing. It doesn’t matter what we do, we still be killed, we still go to jail. Just being black and living is a crime. That’s what seems to be the problem,” Williams told the Courant.

Two Republican state lawmakers who are Trinity College alums themselves have already called for Williams’s firing. Williams, however, has taught at Trinity since 1996 and is an associate professor with tenure. According to a copy of the most recent Trinity College faculty manual, revised in February, “tenure commits Trinity College to permanent appointment so long as the position to which the appointment is made continues to exist.”

Tenured faculty members cannot be dismissed “except under the conditions specified,” which is defined as “adequate cause.”

“Adequate cause will be directly and substantially related to the fitness of the Faculty member in his/her professional academic capacity, which includes responsible conduct toward all members of the College community, or to conditions of financial exigency or to the discontinuance of a program or department of instruction,” the faculty manual states.  

Perhaps the most critical faculty manual policy favoring Williams is the following:

“Such dismissal will not be used to restrain the Faculty member in the exercise of academic freedom or other rights of American citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.”

Williams in his comments to the Courant maintained that his current situation “is about free speech as well as academic freedom.”