KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The University of Tennessee says it will take no disciplinary action against the law professor who came under fire last week for a tweet during the deadly protests in Charlotte.
Dean Melanie Wilson says Professor Glenn Reynolds issued an apology to the law school community. Wilson says Reynolds was exercising his first amendment rights, even though the tweet offended many people.
Reynolds’ apology letter:
Thursday one of my 580,000 tweets blew up. I try to be careful and precise in my language. I didn’t do that this time, and I unfortunately made a lot of people in the law school community sad or angry, something I certainly didn’t mean to do, and feel bad about.
I was following the riots in Charlotte, against a background of reports of violence, which seemed to be getting worse. Then I retweeted a report of mobs “stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles” with the comment “run them down.”
Those words can be taken as encouragement of drivers going out of their way to run down protesters. I meant no such thing, and I’m sorry it seemed to many that I did. What I meant was that drivers who feel their lives are in danger from a violent mob should not stop their vehicles. I remember Reginald Denny, a truck driver who was beaten nearly to death by a mob during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. My tweet should have said, “Keep driving,” or “Don’t stop.” I was upset, and it was a bad tweet. I do not support violence except in cases of clear self-defense.
I have always strongly supported peaceful protests, and I’ve spent years speaking out against police militarization and excessive police violence in my USA TODAY columns, on my blog, and on Twitter itself. I understand why people misunderstood my tweet and regret that I was not clearer.
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Wilson said, in part:
I appreciate Professor Reynolds’s statement. We will now move forward to rebuild our law school community and refocus on our primary purpose: educating future lawyers and leaders. Our students and their education should always be our primary concerns at the college. Only by coming together as a community in thoughtful and constructive dialogue can we ensure that UT Law—and the university overall—is a supportive, collegial community of scholars and lifelong learners.
Reynolds, who posts under the handle @instapundit on Twitter tweeted “Run them down,” with a link to a live video stream of demonstrators stopping traffic on I-277 during protests in Charlotte. Violent protesters rampaged through parts of downtown Charlotte as anger continued to build over the deadly police shooting of a black man and the wildly different stories about what happened from authorities and the victim’s family and neighbors.
The tweet received criticism from those on Twitter. Some users called for Reynolds to be fired.
USA Today suspended Reynolds’ column for one month.