EUGENE, Ore. – A University of Oregon adjunct law professor was arrested Thursday and his teaching duties were reassigned after he aggressively confronted a group of student activists on the Eugene campus Thursday.
In a video that has been making the rounds on YouTube and other social media, James Olmstead is seen provoking, shoving and even snatching the cell phone out of the hands of one student.
The group of about eight students was gathered outside the university’s Erb Memorial Union, acting out what they described as “political theater” to show solidarity for Mexicans and Palestinians, illustrating their frustrations with strict border policies.
That’s when Olmstead confronted the group.
“If you want this country back, start a…war,” Olmstead is seen saying in some of the least vulgar parts of one video. “Start a war, get a gun, shoot me first. I’m right here.”
He then takes off his jacket and is seen pushing another man.
Warning: video contains explicit language
“He started getting really inappropriate,” said Jaki Salgado who was shooting part of the incident on her cell phone. “We feel like his actions were racially motivated. He started saying really rude things. It was very peaceful until that happened.”
Olmstead then snatched Salgado’s phone from her and put it in his pocket. Campus police were called to the altercation and got Salgado’s phone back from Olmstead.
Olmstead was arrested at 2:41 p.m., and given a letter forbidding him to come back on campus, said Kelly McIver with university Police.
U of O student newspaper the Daily Emerald published several more videos and noted Olmstead's removal from the Law School's faculty page.
When pressed for comment, University of Oregon spokesman Phil Weiler said the school has reassigned Olmstead’s teaching responsibilities, but he was unable to discuss details of the situation.
“The University of Oregon honors and values the free exchange of ideas. We expect all members of the campus community to conduct themselves with the highest degree of respect for public discourse,” Weiler said.
Weiler said the university is investigating the incident and charges are pending.