On June 25, a student at Kansas State University ignited a firestorm of controversy on Twitter after posting a tweet about George Floyd‘s death. Jaden McNeil tweeted on June 25, exactly one month after Floyd’s death in police custody, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!”
Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!
— Jaden McNeil (@McNeilJaden) June 25, 2020
McNeil is a sophomore student at Kansas State University and the president of the campus group America First Students. In a February 2020 story from The Mercury about McNeil being “accused of having ties to white nationalism,” which he denied, McNeil described the organization as “a mainstream, Christian, conservative organization that supports President Donald Trump.”
His Tweet Ignited a Debate & Many Called for His Expulsion From the School
McNeil’s tweet generated a lot of controversy, and many people called for Kansas State University to expel him. The president of the university, Richard Myers, posted on the school’s Twitter account:
We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.
— K-State (@KState) June 26, 2020
He wrote: “The insensitive comments posted by one K-State student hurts our entire community. These divisive statements do not represent for the values of our university. We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms. We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.”
The vice president for student life and dean of students posted a similar message: “I’m aware of the Twitter posting by a K-State student. The lack of basic decency and care for how this post would impact others, especially our Black students, faculty, & staff already emotionally hurting from recent incidents of anti-Black violence is shameful and appalling.”
The Kansas State Director of Athletics wrote: “Recent tweets from a K-State student downplaying the Black Lives Matter effort and the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd are disgusting and totally inappropriate and not reflective of who we are as a University or our Athletic Department.”
Some Kansas State football players have also spoken out about McNeil’s comment, with a couple of the messages clearly stating that they will not be playing for the school until it takes action.
KSU Young Democrats issued a statement on their Twitter: “We’ve known America First Students and it’s leadership are a poisonous presence at K-State. At this point its clear that KSU refuses to take concrete action because they’re more afraid of being sued by white supremacists than of being morally absent on the issue of racism.”
McNeil Has Stood By His Comment & Others Have Come to His Defense
Despite the heavy criticism he received, McNeil continued to post tweets defending his position and retweeting supportive tweets from others. In one tweet, he wrote: “People are more upset about this tweet than they are about George Floyd robbing a pregnant woman at gunpoint. BTW he died from overdosing on fentanyl and meth.”
In response to one Twitter user calling him a coward, he wrote: “‘Coward’ I’m one of the few people in this country willing to stand against the mob. The real cowards are people like you who bend over backwards to defend this shit in fear of being called racist or whatever. You’re pathetic.”
"Coward" I'm one of the few people in this country willing to stand against the mob. The real cowards are people like you who bend over backwards to defend this shit in fear of being called racist or whatever. You're pathetic. https://t.co/xRBC02BjFC
— Jaden McNeil (@McNeilJaden) June 26, 2020
One person tweeted her support of McNeil, saying: “Highly recommend following @McNeilJaden who is being attacked by the cancel mob for daring to make a joke about that guy who held a gun to a pregnant woman’s stomach while robbing her home.”
Another shared a now-protected tweet that read: “KICK JADEN MCNEIL OUT OR WE WILL HANDLE HIM OURSELVES. This is not a threat, it’s a promise.” The user replied to the tweet and wrote: “This person is directly threatening violence against a conservative on his college campus. He should be expelled, not the person who made a joke. @KState.”
One user responded to the university’s statement and wrote: “K-State is a weak university for responding to a student’s free speech. Not a serious university and pathetic.”