UO instructor faces charges after confrontation with student protesters
EUGENE, Ore. - A law school instructor caught on camera in a confrontation with student protesters has had his teaching responsibilities reassigned, the University of Oregon School of Law said in a statement.
"The University of Oregon School of Law has reassigned teaching responsibilities for adjunct instructor James Olmsted to Associated Dean for Academic Affairs Adell Amos," reads a UO press release sent to KVAL News on Friday: "This is a personnel decision and we are unable to discuss details of the situation at this time."
Campus police cited Olmsted for theft in the second degree and two counts of physical harassment at the student-led protest on campus.
"An adjunct instructor with the University of Oregon law school was arrested by University of Oregon Police and escorted off of campus," said University of Oregon Police Department public information officer Kelly McIver on Friday. "His return to campus was forbidden, and he was cited in lieu of custody."
KVAL News reached Olmsted by phone on Friday. He was very upset and said it would be best if he did not make any public comments on Thursday's incident on campus.
Olmsted, a local attorney, is shown in YouTube videos in a confrontation with protesters from Students Against Imperialism, a group concerned about U.S./Mexico border issues and Palestinian liberation.
Diana Salazar, a senior at the UO who co-founded Students Against Imperialism with junior Jaki Salgado, said Olmsted grabbed her after a heated argument at the mock border checkpoint protest held outside the Erb Memorial Union on Thursday afternoon.
"It's one thing to be politically mad that we're having this action," said Salazar in front of the EMU on Friday, "but it's a completely different thing to lay your hands on a student."
Salgado, also standing in front of the EMU on Friday, told KVAL News she started taking video on her iPhone just seconds after the confrontation at the protest started.
"Like whoa, is this really happening? It's not you don't expect such Blatant racist things to come out like that," said Salgado.
The video shows Olmsted shoving students and yelling explicit language while engaging in an argument with students in front of the EMU amphitheater.
"The whole purpose of a University is to allow people have an exchange of ideas," said University of Oregon spokesman Phil Weiler on campus Friday morning, "to be able to share different points of view, and we expect people to do that in a respectful manner. So, when that doesn't happen, that's a problem for us."
Salgado said Olmsted grabbed her camera phone while she was taking video. She said he did not return the phone until campus police arrived.
UO Police Department public information officer Kelly McIver said in addition to the three charges Olmsted is facing, he has been banned form campus as the investigation continues. Kelly said additional charges could be added pending that investigation's findings.
"He's definitely entitled to debate with us because this is a very controversial issue, but he should take responsibility for what he did with Jaki, myself and the other gentleman," said Salazar.
"His teaching duties have been reassigned, and we have another faculty member who will be covering his classes for the rest of the year," said Weiler.
As for any future disciplinary action against Olmsted by the University of Oregon, Weiler said he could not make any comments per university personnel policy.
Salazar said she is considering pressing charges against Olmsted.
"If he does this during a political discussion, a public space, who's to say what he can do during office hours when he has a debate with someone when no one is around," she said.