'Poster boy for white hatred' sues Michigan Tech for scapegoating him
According to a lawsuit filed against Michigan Tech, the university wrongfully expelled a student after accusing him of making a racial threat on Yik Yak.
Matthew Schultz, a former student at Michigan Tech, claims that the university misled students and media about his Yik Yak post in order to prove that they were taking racism seriously, despite knowing that someone had altered the post to make it look threatening to black people, reports M Live.
“MTU officials continued to fan the flames of racial conflict...in order to serve MTU's own political purposes.”
Schultz was ultimately expelled by the university and is seeking $75,000 in damages.
Schultz said he made a post to Yik Yak in November 2015 that read, “Gonna shoot all black people…….. A smile tomorrow.”
The post was allegedly supposed to be a humorous response to racial unrest and threats at the University of Missouri.
“With the intent to point out the ridiculous nature of the threats (‘shoot every black person’) and the illiterate language used by racists (‘gonna’), Matthew posted the following: 'Gonna shoot all black people...... A smile tomorrow,' meaning he is going to shoot a smile at black people, expressing, in a humorous way, that he is not racist,” explained Steven Pence, Schultz’s lawyer.
The post was immediately flagged and removed from the platform, but not before another student was able to grab a screenshot and report it to the university.
Former MTU student Ryan Grainger allegedly screenshotted the post before it was removed from Yik Yak, tweeted it to the university, and sent a copy to university police.
However, the screenshot he sent to police was altered and only showed “Gonna shoot all black people," with the phrase “A smile tomorrow” removed.
Deputy Police Chief Brian Caldwell reached out to Yik Yak to identify the author of the post, but was informed by Yik Yak that the post had been cropped and that he would need to provide the full screenshot.
Nonetheless, campus police issued a campus-wide alert "about an anonymous social media threat against 'members of our African American community.’”
The day after the post was discovered, a school spokesman even told a television station that “the anonymous poster said they wanted to shoot all black people,” recounting that “we called Public Safety immediately. They sprang into action and we sent a note out to the entire campus informing them of the nature of the threat."
Yik Yak determined that the post was not a threat, but identified Schultz as the author. Police arrested Schultz for domestic terror, a 20-year felony, although he was later charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.
The charges were ultimately dismissed, with the Houghton County Prosecuting Office explaining in a statement that there was “no evidence to indicate an actual ongoing public danger, nor was there obvious evidence of motive or intent,” according to Keweena Report.
However, the very same day, the MTU Conduct Board held proceedings without either Schultz or his lawyer present, and determined to place Schultz on probation for eighteen months.
When Schultz appealed the decision, Bonnie Gorman, associate vice president and dean of students, allegedly decided to expel Schultz with no right to appeal, after which Pence claims that the university launched a media campaign against his client despite being aware that the post had been altered.
“MTU officials continued to fan the flames of racial conflict, always using Matthew as a poster boy for white hatred... [MTU] knowingly perpetuated the myth that Matthew had written the altered post, in order to serve MTU's own political purposes.”
Pence says Schultz’s future remains uncertain.
“Presently, Matthew remains out of school with no hope of resuming his studies anywhere, having been labeled a virulent racist by a University with a history of botched investigations and an inability to do other than protect the institution and the lives of its administrative careerists, at any cost to the students or the truth," he asserted.
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