Furman investigating after photos surface of professor at Unite the Right rally
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A Furman University professor said he is cooperating fully with an investigation by his employer after photos surfaced from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The 2017 rally, organized by white supremacists in response to the city’s plan to remove a Confederate statue, turned violent leading to dozens of injuries and the death of peaceful counterprotester Heather Heyer.
Five years after the deadly rally, a group called “Ignite the Right” created a database of images seeking to identify “organizers and attendees of Unite the Right.”
Last week the group says they received an anonymous tip: a man in one of the photos, initially known only as #PoloHatUTR, was Furman professor Chris Healy.
Multiple journalists including a photographer from the Associated Press captured pictures and video purportedly showing Healy among white supremacist groups at the rally.
Late Friday night, the president of Furman sent an email out to the campus regarding the incident, saying that they are investigating a faculty member for their participation in the rally and alleged association with other organizations connected with white supremacist groups.
Furman did not name the professor but Healy confirmed he is cooperating fully with the investigation. He will not be teaching or on campus while the investigation is underway, according to Furman’s statement.
Below is a copy of the full letter sent to the Furman campus by university president Elizabeth Davis:
“Dear Campus Community,
I learned today that one of our faculty members participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and is alleged to be associated with other organizations that are connected with white supremacist groups that promote racism, exclusion and hatred.
I and others immediately began investigating this information. As we continue to look into this matter, this professor will not teach or be on campus as we process these difficult circumstances and determine next steps.
The views of the organizers of the Unite the Right rally do not reflect the values that I hold, and they are not the values that we have committed to in our vision, mission and values statements. They are harmful to members of our community, diminish a sense of belonging, and inhibit each individual’s opportunity to thrive. It is our responsibility when matters like these come to light to engage in robust dialogue about what belonging and thriving mean on our campus and beyond. As we continue to struggle with this difficult situation, we intend to engage our campus in further conversation.
Campus leaders and members of our community will offer opportunities to process these events next week. Details will be shared as plans are finalized. Meanwhile, if you need support to discuss this incident, related issues or other concerns, please contact any of the following offices.
1. Counseling Center (Confidential): 864-294-3031
2. Spiritual Life (Confidential): 864-294-2133
3. Student Life: 864-294-2202
4. Center for Inclusive Communities (Student Life): 864-294-2076
5. Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence (faculty and staff): 864-294-2029
6. Human Resources (faculty and staff): 864-294-2217
Furman University is stronger when we embrace and celebrate diversity and when we denounce racism, exclusion and hatred.
A spokesperson for Furman said other members of the faculty have been assigned to teach and advise students during the investigation.
“We’re taking every measure to make sure all students are able to continue their studies with minimal interruption,” said director of news and media strategy Clinton Colmenares.
Healy’s biography on Furman’s website says he is a computer science professor who joined the university in 1999.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Urban League Upstate have released statements commending Furman and Davis for their action.
“We welcome the swift action of university officials, which sends the clear message that the systemic anti-Black racism promoted by white supremacist groups will not be tolerated on their campus,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
“They say that true leadership is being there when it counts most. Instead of looking the other way, or even worse, justifying doing nothing, Elizabeth Davis, the 12th president of Furman University, continues to take such action.
In 2017, Furman University formed the Task Force on Slavery and Justice and has intentionally been committed to following through on the recommendations and initiatives.
And on September 30th, President Davis immediately issued a letter about the faculty member who participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, 2017. Her statement makes a difference.
The ULUS supports the leadership of President Davis and stands with her and those who unequivocally condemn acts of hate.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”
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