Oregon Professor Relieved Of Teaching Duties After Bizarre Confrontation With Students

olmstead19n-6-webAn Adjunct Law Professor from the University of Oregon has been removed from teaching responsibilities after a confrontation with students that was partially filmed. James Olmsted had a confrontation with students protesting immigration policies on March 14th in which he and students exchange foul language and at one point Olmsted advises them to “start a war, get a gun, shoot me first.”

olmstead19n-2-webBoth sides are shown getting increasingly irate and the videocamera is turned on and off at points. At one point, Olmstead is shown shoving a man and saying “Get away from my space, you prick.” At one point, Olmstead says “I’m part of your performance. You need a protagonist.”

Apparently not. Olmstead, 58, was arrested after the outburst and charged with theft, harassment and intimidation. I am a bit uneasy with the intimidation and harassment charges in a protest situation since Olmstead was exercising his free speech rights. However, he does shove students and grab at the camera when the students are in their rights to film him. Olmstead is shown yelling “If you want this country back, start a f— war and take it back.” I would have still preferred for police to diffuse the situation without criminal charges. However, the theft charge relates to the taking of a cellphone and it is not clear if this was returned or retained by Olmstead.

Olmstead is clearly out of line in his tone and language and physical conduct. The students overall sound much more reasoned and Olmstead himself seems to fluctuate between reason and rage.

Olmstead is a law graduate from the University of California at Davis and is admitted to practice law in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. He taught land-use in the university’s School of Law Environmental and Natural Resources.

Source: ABA Journal

54 thoughts on “Oregon Professor Relieved Of Teaching Duties After Bizarre Confrontation With Students”

  1. Michael Val,
    Good point. I have told my kids and anyone else who will listen. Assume you are being recorded at all times. Whenever I interview a new hire for a law enforcement agency, I always pull out my cell phone and ask them if they know what that little black dot is on the front. Of course, they know it is a camera lens. Then I flip it open and show them the “celltop” icon, and ask if they know the implications of that. Many don’t so I explain I have the capability of recording video and uploading it to the Internet in real time. Even seizing the phone does no good. That video is somewhere else.

    That leads into a discussion of court decisions saying people can record anyone in a public place, so if they have done something embarrassing and it gets recorded, there is no unringing the bell. They are reminded that every fifteen-year old in the country has one and knows how to use it. On top of that, a lot of people get a kick out of catching police or authority figures doing something stupid. I warn new officers if they become the star of an embarrassing YouTube video, it is not only their Chief they have to worry about; they will be having another little chat with me.

  2. Michael Val,

    I don’t think your take on it so different than mine. An act goes awry and he reacts strangely, but arguably with anger. He seems angry to me anyway. Whether that anger is at himself for stepping in a big ol’ steamy pile of video poo or actual anger at the protesters? Only he knows for sure.

  3. Seems like most of you guys have a very different take on the Prof than I do. I see him as radical leftist who is trying to make protestors think about and question the efficacy of their protesting. The whole thing seems like an act, at least up to the point that he realizes that he’s being recorded. Then, it seems that a light pops on in his head and he realizes that this is not going to look good, so he becomes really stupid and grabs her phone. I see the whole thing as more bizarre than angry.

  4. jeaninemolloff,
    Why so angry? You’re angrier than anyone in the video.
    A disturbed man tried to get the crowd to beat him up. He was racist? I can’t tell. Not coherent enough.
    Nobody went for it.
    Tall man put his hand on the guy’s shoulder, maybe to telegraph any violent motion, maybe to calm the guy down. Takes nerve to physically intervene without violence.
    Everyone’s fine.
    You cannot arrest someone for being in your way. You walk around them.
    Calm down. No one’s going to hurt you.

  5. OS,

    Excellent news. I’m glad to hear B is thriving in the new environment.

    And I have to agree on the video. His responses were . . . unusual. It almost reminded me of a scenario we’ve seen here before where the mask of anger slips and behind it is actual anger. The “protagonist” comment was telling.

  6. This was worth one good orange juice spew:

    One thing’s for sure–any large man blocks my path–and he’ll be looking out from the inside of a jail cell.

    Bless your heart.

  7. Hi, Gene.
    Our favorite officer came home this afternoon, telling me about having to defuse a situation with a psychiatric patient. Funny thing, it was one of those get in your face deals. Her supervisor kept trying to get her to let somebody else handle it. She ended up telling the supervisor to back off and leave her alone, “I got this.”

    He let her handle it and the mental patient calmed down. The two main training supervisors told her she did well and handled it perfectly.

    As for the professor in the video, that man needs help.

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