UPDATE: Campus speech group urges UGA to end inquiry of teaching assistant

An organization that monitors college campus speech issues across the nation on Friday wrote a letter to the University of Georgia demanding it end its inquiry into an African-American teaching assistant whose comments about whites and racism have sparked outrage among some and support from others.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said in its letter to UGA President Jere Morehead that the comments by the teaching assistant, Irami Osei-Frimpong, are “protected by the First Amendment.”

UGA on Tuesday condemned his remarks, which have included “some white people may have to die for black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom.” Critics say his comments are racist and violent.

The university has asked the Georgia Attorney General’s office for guidance since his comments have largely been made in social media posts, not in the classroom.

“The First Amendment does not permit UGA to subject the expressive rights of faculty members or students to the whims of donors, students, or members of the public who find those views uncomfortable, objectionable, or deeply offensive,” the letter said. “UGA has condemned the teaching assistant’s expression; the First Amendment prevents the institution from taking any further steps. Instead, UGA must immediately abandon its investigation into protected expression.”

FIRE has asked UGA to respond by Jan. 30.

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