Melissa Click: "I was very concerned for the students' safety"
COLUMBIA - Two days after the Columbia Police Department released body camera footage of MU Assistant Professor Melissa Click from October, she sat down with KOMU 8's Jim Riek to talk about her involvement in Concerned Student 1950's protest at the Homecoming parade. See full interview.
Click admitted there was a pattern concerning her actions in October and November.
"I think the pattern is that I was willing to help this group of students that had been expressing a very moving message about being excluded and marginalized from MU's community. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Am I very sorry for them? Yes. But I think the pattern was that I was willing to help these students," Click explained.
She maintained that her actions from both the October and November protests are very out of character.
"It was something I didn't have a lot of time to think about and I jumped into it. This is something I don't usually do," Click said.
She defended her actions in the video saying she was moved by the tears of the students and the colleagues who also stepped in to help. Click said she was motivated to step in when she felt the students' safety was at risk.
"I think the video shows that I was very concerned for the students' safety."
When asked if she went too far in the newly released video, Click said she thinks the event itself went too far and the parade was the driving force that lead to the hunger strike.
"The Homecoming parade was the impetus for the hunger strike that followed," Click said.
As for her direct behavior in the video, she is regretful for her actions.
"I certainly regret my language," Click said.
Click was seen in the body camera footage telling Columbia officers to step back while blocking them from the student protestors. She is heard yelling "back off" while using profanity to protect the protestors.
"I guess I didn't think about it either way. I don't interact with the police very much. I don't think I knew that police officers wore cameras on their bodies but I knew there were videos of the Homecoming parade," Click said.
In an email to students, faculty and staff on Sunday, Interim Chancellor Hank Foley called Click's actions a "verbal assault against members of the Columbia Police Department." He said the Board of Curators will review the incident, adding to their investigation of Click.
Click has faced criticism from many following the release of videos from the Nov. 9 protests on MU's campus and now her actions toward Columbia police officers on Oct. 10. She said she's working to repair her image with public relations firm Status Labs in Texas that specializes in online reputation management.
The university suspended Click from her teaching duties on Jan. 27 while the UM Board of Curators conducted an investigation in order to determine if further discipline was necessary.
Two days earlier, she was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault against the MU student who filmed the Nov. 9 viral video. On Jan. 29, she entered into deferred prosecution treatment and the result was 20 hours of community service.
In addition to speaking with KOMU 8 News, Click released a statement regarding the body-cam video from the Homecoming Parade.
"I am sorry I cursed at a police officer while trying to keep the peace during the students'
demonstrations at the Homecoming parade," her statement began. "The officer's physical force was unexpected, and I spoke in a way I now regret. I was drawn to stand in solidarity with these students because of their moving message of racial exclusion and the angry responses of the
"While my inexperience with civic actions led to some mistakes, I feel this video depicts my desire to support marginalized MU students," the statement continued.
Click said she was afraid for the students because they were "being threatened with pepper spray and taunted by parade spectators."
Her statement also addressed Foley's statements to the MU community.
"His comments create a biased environment that will make it difficult to receive fair treatment through the due process that MU policy affords all faculty. His words and actions set a troubling precedent that endangers academic freedom for all."
Click said Foley's statement "represents a disconcerting reversal of his earlier statement that 'the MU administration does not comment publicly on personnel matters.'"
She said the focus on the videos of her distract from the greater issues.
"We all need to look at how we can stop racial bias on MU's campus and move forward to a better future for every member of the University of Missouri community," the statement read.
[Editor's Note: This story has been updated with Click's statement and the full interview with KOMU 8 Anchor Jim Riek.]