COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri professor Melissa Click was charged with third degree assault by Columbia City Prosecutor Steve Richey Monday morning for her involvement in student protests at the university which took place in November.
Click achieved widespread notoriety after she was captured on video calling for “some muscle” to either intimidate or expel a student photojournalist on freelance assignment with ESPN. She also grabbed the reporter’s camera and organized a human circle barring entry of journalists onto the Carnahan Quadrangle, a public space, where the Concerned Student 1950 movement had set up tents and habitated for a week.
At the beginning of the year, Republicans from the General Assembly called for Click’s termination by the MU Board of Curators for her activities, calling them “a complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of reporters” in a Jan. 4 letter. Democrats responded by saying they did not wish to micromanage the university.
Republicans saw the charges as a bolstering of their argument.
“While the University of Missouri seems to have no accountability for their professors and their actions, the Missouri criminal justice system does,” Rep. Caleb Jones, a Columbia resident, said. “I hope that justice gets served to the fullest extent of the law.”
Others offered their thoughts on Twitter.
Melissa Click charged with assault… Your move Chancellor/Board of Curators…. It’s already past due.
— Justin Alferman (@Justinalf) January 25, 2016
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) January 25, 2016
Gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway also weighed in on the charges.
“I commend Columbia City Prosecutor Steve Richey for taking decisive action and protecting students’ First Amendment rights in Columbia,” Hanaway said. “It is now time for the Board of Curators to do the same and discharge Ms. Click for her outrageous actions. I am truly appalled that the University of Missouri, heralded as a world-class journalism institution, is allowing a professor, with no respect for the Freedom of the Press, to continue to teach.”
Third degree assault is a misdemeanor in the state of Missouri, which includes, “purposely threatening another person, causing that person to feel afraid that he is about to suffer serious physical injury” and “intentionally engaging in physical contact with another that the victim finds offensive or provocative, with knowledge that the victim will find it offensive or provocative,” which seems to fit the bill for Click’s involvement.
While assault in the third degree can be punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine as a class A misdemeanor, the kind of assault described in the aforementioned circumstances is a class C misdemeanor, which can be punishable by 15 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.
The prosecutor’s office noted they would go after the latter punishment, but has so far declined to comment on their decision to proceed with charges.
No warrant has been issued for Click’s arrest.