Brandeis Student Receives Threats for Tweets About NYC Police Shooting

Khadijah Lynch's remarks have led to widespread discussions about race relations and free speech.

Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

A Brandeis University student has received death threats from people across the country after she posted a series of tweets in response to the killings of two New York City police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Khadijah Lynch, a student at the school, deleted her Twitter account in response to the onslaught of racist and threatening remarks directed toward her after Brandeis senior Daniel Mael wrote a story for the conservative website TruthRevolt that included tweets sent out by Lynch.

“I have no sympathy for the NYPD officers who were murdered today,” one of the tweets by Lynch, which have been deleted, allegedly said.

Mael’s story about Lynch, which included other posts she made on social media prior to Saturday’s grisly murders, racked up a whopping 83,000 “likes” on TruthRevolt’s website, and quickly led to the creation of a Facebook group calling for Lynch to be expelled from the school.

The group, named “Expel Khadijah Lynch from Brandeis,” has more than 200 members, some of which are from the Waltham school, according to the page. People both supporting and deriding Lynch for her comments on the police shootings have been arguing about the sequence of events since Mael’s article went public.

Boston asked Mael if he would like to comment on the situation, but instead he forwarded a statement posted to his own Facebook account. “Any threats made against Khadijah Lynch are repulsive and morally reprehensible. What Lynch wrote was vile and so to [sic] are some of the threats made against her. It must stop. Now. We must overcome vicious hatred through real dialogue and a strong commitment to a better future,” he said.

Attempts to reach Lynch after she deleted her social media accounts were unsuccessful.

Following the response and controversy surrounding the highly-publicized tweets sent out on Saturday, Lynch stepped down from her role as the Undergraduate Department Representative for the African and Afro-American Studies department, where she was a student leader.

In a statement, Chad Williams, associate professor and chairman of the AAAS at Brandeis, distanced the group from Lynch’s actions. “The comments of Ms. Lynch, made through her own personal Twitter account, do not reflect the views of AAAS as a department,” he said in a letter sent to Boston.

However, Williams also blasted those who have lobbed “horrifically racist, sexist, Islamophobic” remarks at Lynch. “The comments expressed by Ms. Lynch in no way excuse those made in response to her tweets,” he said. “These appalling comments should be resoundingly condemned with even greater passion.”

While officials from the school “condemned” Lynch’s tweets about the deaths of the New York officers, who were gunned down while sitting in their cruiser on December 20, they were in disbelief about the reaction to her opinions expressed online.

“Brandeis seeks at all times to be a space that empowers honest and open dialogue on difficult subjects, including issues of race and law enforcement. Unfortunately, one of our students posted comments in social media that were hurtful and disrespectful, inconsistent with our institutional values,” said Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment. “We are equally dismayed that individuals responding to the initial comments have posted reprehensible racist and threatening comments. While we in no way condone the original posts, we likewise are appalled by efforts to diminish speech and instill fear in our students.”

Many students from the school have stood behind Lynch during the ordeal. The incident was the impetus for a special hashtag-driven conversation on Twitter called #IstandWithKhadijah, and #StandWithKhadijah, which has generated thousands of comments on race relations and free speech.

Using the hashtags, former and current students have equally lambasted the hateful speech aimed at Lynch, and called for others to put an end to it.