Congressman praises heckling of war protesters, including 1 who made monkey gestures at Black woman

JACKSON, ma’am. — War demonstrations between Israel and Hamas at the University of Mississippi turned ugly this week when a counter-protester appeared to make monkey noises and gestures at a black student during a raucous rally endorsed by a far-right congressman from Georgia.

“Ole Miss takes care of business,” Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Collins wrote on the social platform X on Friday with a link to the video showing the racist spot.

The Associated Press left voicemail messages for Collins at his offices in Georgia and Washington on Friday and sent an email to his spokesman asking for an explanation of what Collins meant. There was no immediate response.

The taunting brought sharp criticism on and off campus.

“Students called for an end to the genocide. They faced racism,” James M. Thomas, a professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, wrote on X on Friday.

Rev. Cornell William Brooks, former president and CEO of the NAACP and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, wrote on ‘ or ‘Free Palestine.’ This is protest as performative racism.”

Collins was first elected to Congress in 2022 and made several social media posts criticizing the protests on campus.

No one was arrested during Thursday’s demonstration at the University of Mississippi, which far outnumbered war demonstrators. More than 2,400 arrests have taken place on 46 U.S. college or university campuses during anti-war demonstrations since April 17, according to an AP count.

The student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, reported that about thirty protesters on the Oxford campus billed themselves as UMiss for Palestine. Videos and photos of the event showed the protesters in a grassy area near the main library, closed off by barriers erected by campus security.

They chanted “Free, Free Palestine” and carried Palestinian flags and signs with slogans such as “Stop the genocide” and “American bombs cost Palestinian lives.”

Student journalist Stacey J. Spiehler captured a video showing campus police officers and the dean of students standing among anti-war protesters and hecklers. After the black woman protesting the war had an apparent heated altercation with several white hecklers, one of the men made the monkey gestures and noises at her.

About 76% of the university’s students were white and about 11% were black in 2022-2023, according to the most recent data available on the school’s website.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the school is committed to people expressing their opinions. He said some of the statements made on campus Thursday were “offensive and unacceptable.”

Republican Governor Tate Reeves reposted a video on X showing counter-protesters on campus singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Warms my heart,” Reeves wrote. “I love Mississippi!”