U.S. Rep. Mike Collins acknowledges criticism after reposting racist video

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson, at North Oconee High School in Bogart, GA, Tuesday, February 20, 2024. (Nell Carroll for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nell Carroll for the AJC

Credit: Nell Carroll for the AJC

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson, at North Oconee High School in Bogart, GA, Tuesday, February 20, 2024. (Nell Carroll for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins acknowledged Monday criticism he faced for reposting a viral video showing apparently racist behavior during a campus protest.

Collins had faced backlash, including a rebuke from the Georgia NAACP, after sharing the video of counterprotesters at the University of Mississippi shouting at a pro-Palestinian protester, a Black woman. One student in the video appeared to be making monkey sounds and gestures toward the woman.

“Ole Miss taking care of business,” Collins, a Republican from Jackson, wrote initially when he posted the video Friday.

Referring to Black people as animals, particularly monkeys, is a well-known racist trope.

“Which part of this is appropriate for a Congressman from Georgia to retweet?” the Georgia NAACP posted in response.

The gestures were seen in a video that Collins amplified of a confrontation involving Ole Miss students chanting “lock her up” at the pro-Palestinian demonstrator. The video has garnered more than 20 million views.

Collins defended his post over the weekend and swiped at former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele after he accused the Georgia Republican of “casual approval of racist behavior.” Collins snapped back that all Steele does is “repeat leftist talking points.”

On Monday, Collins issued a statement saying he does not condone racism or discrimination and that any student found to have targeted another person for the color of their skin should face the consequences.

“If that person is found to have treated another human being improperly because of their race, they should be punished appropriately, and will hopefully seek forgiveness,” Collins wrote. “Frankly, I did not believe that to be the focal point of the video shared at the time, but I recognize that there certainly seems to be some potentially inappropriate behavior that none of us should seek to glorify.”

The student in the video who made the racist gestures was reportedly ousted from his fraternity.

In his statement, Collins also attempted to clarify his initial “taking care of business” comment, saying he wanted to applaud schools where students were demonstrating against the pro-Palestinian protesters.

”I believe any school like Ole Miss or (the University of Georgia) that does not allow the occupiers to run roughshod over the 99% of students who are there to learn and enjoy college are taking care of business,” he wrote.

Collins has been criticized in recent months for posts some have viewed as racist, including an incident in March when he reposted from an antisemitic account a comment targeting a Washington Post journalist who is Jewish. Collins later claimed he was agreeing that the reporter was a “garbage human” and was not commenting on her ethnicity.

Despite walking them back in public comments, Collins has not deleted either that post or the Ole Miss post.