(Reuters) - A University of Missouri professor who was caught on video calling for “some muscle” to get a student journalist removed from a campus protest in November told a local television station she regretted her behavior and was embarrassed.
Melissa Click was suspended from her position as an assistant professor in the school’s communications department and charged by police with misdemeanor assault after she appeared to have forcibly blocked and pushed the student’s camera. Under a deferred prosecution agreement reached last month, she must complete 20 hours of community service work.
In her first public interview since she tried to get the student to leave the protest, Click told ABC 17 in Columbia, Missouri on Wednesday that when she watches the student journalist’s video, “I feel sorry. I feel embarrassed by my actions.”
She can be seen calling on protesters during an anti-racism demonstration to remove the reporter and a student photographer from a spot in the school quad that demonstrators had claimed as private space.
“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” Click yells on camera. “I need some muscle over here.”
Click’s hand can be seen blocking the video image at least twice. The student journalist filed a complaint against Click with university police. She later apologized for her actions.
The university’s board of curators suspended Click with pay pending further investigation and ordered an investigation to determine whether additional discipline would be appropriate.
Click said in the interview that she was never calling for violence, and she hopes other people can identify with saying something they did not mean in a hectic moment.
“You can only hope in a moment like that you’re not being recorded and that it won’t be put on YouTube,” said Click, who hopes she can get her job back soon.
Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Bernard Orr