UT Austin fired lecturer involved in protest

May 13, 2024
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A lawyer representing a University of Texas at Austin lecturer says the institution fired his client Wednesday. A state trooper had charged the Richard Heyman with “interference with public duties” as the trooper tried to break up a pro-Palestinian encampment.

On April 29, Heyman “approached troopers, got in their faces, and yelled, ‘Fuck you, you don’t belong here,’” a trooper wrote in an arrest warrant provided to Inside Higher Ed by Heyman’s attorney, Gerry Morris. The trooper wrote that as police encircled protesters and the trooper bike team began using their bikes “to prevent other people from entering our encirclement,” Heyman tried to break through and lifted a water bottle “above his head as if he were going to swing it and hit me.”

The trooper wrote that Heyman tried to pull his bike away, “broke my state-issued bike bell (cost USD $62)” and said, “Fuck you, I am a fucking professor here.”

Morris told Inside Higher Ed that he has videos showing a different story, though he declined to provide them, saying they will be evidence in a trial. “The officer pushed him and he was falling back and he grabbed the handlebars … to keep from falling over,” Morris said. He said Heyman “didn’t voluntarily grab the bicycle in some sort of attempt to obstruct the officer’s performance of his duties.”

The lawyer said that, if this had been a pro-Israel rally, “they would have been out there serving them refreshments.”

Asked to confirm whether Heyman had been fired and why, a UT Austin spokesman said, “In general, we don’t comment on personnel matters.”



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