Maxwell Lawrence is a former Purdue University student who was expelled for sending racial slurs to a group chat and posting an offensive TikTok video.
The underclassman was an incoming sophomore at the school’s College of Agriculture, according to the Insider. Lawrence garnered viral attention after he sent anti-Black sentiments, including the n-word, to an Instagram group chat. He also uploaded a now-deleted TikTok video of himself pretending to run over protesters, the outlet reported.
Purdue announced in a June 23 statement that President Mitch Daniels expelled Lawrence as a result of his behavior.
“The president determined that, in addition to being racist and despicable, repeated statements posted on social media by Lawrence appear plainly intended to incite others and therefore create a risk of public safety issues in the current environment,” the statement reads.
Lawrence has since deactivated his social media accounts.
Here’s what you need to know about Maxwell Lawrence:
1. Lawrence Sent Racist Messages to an Instagram Group Chat Called ‘ACAB,’ or ‘All Cops Are Bastards’
The school’s student newspaper, The Exponent, first reported that Lawrence sent several racist messages to the Instagram group chat, ACAB. He used the username “hoosierdaddy23.” They did not name Lawrence in the story because at the time he faced no criminal charges, they wrote.
In one message, Lawrence wrote, “If all cops are bad then that just means all black people are [n-word],” regarding the group’s name, The Exponent disclosed.
The underclassman also sent a picture of Hitler’s face with the script, “How can you tell if a black man is well hung? You can’t fit your fingers between the rope and his neck,” reported the newspaper.
The Exponent reported that incoming sophomore Hunter Spalding was part of the chat and identified Lawrence’s username.
“They were some of the most hateful, racist things I had ever seen,” Spalding told the paper. “It was just beyond my understanding that someone I used to associate with could be saying these things.”
2. Lawrence Posted a TikTok Video Pretending to Hit Black Lives Matter Protesters With His Car
In the now-deleted video, Lawrence filmed himself pretending to run over protesters while driving his car with the text, “Driving to your fishing spot and the protesters try blocking the road.”
His caption read, “Everyone in the parking lot was watching me blow this up please.”
The video was posted on Twitter and had been liked and shared more than 1,000 times, The Exponent reported.
3. Purdue Did Not Initially Seek Punishment, Citing Free Speech
According to The Exponent, Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty initially said in an email “that the appropriate offices had been notified of the social media posts.” He explained that the university would not be seeking punishment for the speech used on Lawrence’s personal accounts, The Exponent continued.
“While the views expressed are obviously highly inconsistent with the values and principles we believe in at Purdue, we also are committed to freedom of expression and do not control what people post on their personal accounts,” Doty wrote to the paper. “Nor can we punish their speech, no matter how offensive or vile.”
4. Students Mobilized Online to Push the University to Take Action
Students soon took to Twitter to encourage others to report Lawrence’s video, as well as his Instagram messages.
An email template calling for his removal circulated online, while a Change.org petition garnered more than 2,500 signatures.
“The inaction of protecting black lives leads to our deaths,” the petition reads. “Purdue’s response is unacceptable and our voices need to be heard! Let us show Purdue that the actions of Maxwell Lawrence, those that hold anti-black sentiment, and the remarks made earlier in the year about leading black scholars being ‘rare creatures’ are to be taken seriously.”
5. Lawrence Tried to ‘Justify’ His Sentiments
The Exponent reported that Lawrence tried to “justify” his messages after they were leaked online and to the press.
“The student began messaging Spalding and other members of the group chat in an attempt to justify his messages and defuse the anger directed at him, Spalding said,” according to The Exponent. “He shared a screenshot in which the student apologizes and says, ‘You’re not getting the whole story!’”
Spalding told the paper that Lawrence claimed “he wasn’t racist because he had black friends.”
“I just think it’s funny that y’all think you should get away with everything when you do something wrong,” he wrote in a message to the chat, adding his belief that efforts to change racism’s permanence in society are futile. “Then y’all think cops are really bad because they are doing their job.”