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UMass graduate Melissa Click faces assault charge following incident at Missouri protest

(Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

(Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

A University of Missouri assistant professor, who is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, faces a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with her role at a student-led protest that took place on Missouri’s campus in November.

Melissa Click, 45, tried to restrict two student journalists from recording and documenting a Nov. 9 protest on the Missouri campus. Click was seen on video attempting to stop a photographer from shooting the protest and entering a space protesters deemed a media-free zone.

Shortly after, Click, a communications professor, told another student filming video to leave the area and asked for “muscle” to help remove the reporter.

Columbia City prosecutors charged Click with simple assault Monday. If convicted, Click could face up to 15 days in jail.

Click  earned her PhD in communications at UMass. According to her bio, Click’s research “centers on popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture.”

The incident garnered national attention amid weeks of on-campus turmoil at Missouri. Students protested Missouri’s lack of response to rising racial tensions on campus. One student, Jonathan Butler, went on a week-long hunger strike in protest, while members of the Missouri football team refused to participate in team activities until changes were made.

Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned in response to the protests.

Students then continued protests on the University of Missouri’s quad. Tim Tai, a student photographer covering the event, attempted to photograph the demonstrations but faced backlash from protesters who deemed the area a media-friendly area.

Another student, Mark Schierbecker, recorded the confrontation between Tai and protesters. In his video Click can be seen joining others in pushing Tai away, and also openly stating she’s a member of the school’s communications department.

Schierbecker later encountered Click, who demanded he leave the area. When he refused, she attempted to grab his camera. She then called out to other students in the area to help her.

“Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” she said. “I need some muscle over here.”

The video spread quickly and Click faced significant criticism for her handling of the incident. Click, who was named an honorary professor within Missouri’s journalism school, resigned from that position a day after the incident.

She is still currently a professor within the communications department, according to USA Today. However, more than 100 Republican lawmakers in Missouri sent a letter to University administrators earlier this month demanding Click’s firing.

The letter states that Click “failed to meet the obligations she has to her supervisors, fellow professors, University students, and the taxpayers of Missouri.” The incident generated national discussion regarding First Amendment rights for journalists in public spaces.

Over 100 of Click’s colleagues responded with a letter supporting Click, per the USA Today.

 

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

Comments
One Response to “UMass graduate Melissa Click faces assault charge following incident at Missouri protest”
  1. Red Rocket says:

    It’s the new face of feminism: Do what I say or I’ll get my boyfriend to beat you up! Yep, strong, self-sufficient women!

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