***The Griffon News has decided to remove the videos that were posted on Friday due to legal reasons and in order to protect the persons involved due to the rise in death threats and threats of violence.
Editor’s note: This is a breaking story, and details will be updated throughout the weekend as more information and sources become available.
A disagreement between a Missouri Western student and a person on campus wearing a Make America Great Again hat resulted in a confrontation involving campus police that has created controversy on social media after a video was posted by the Griffon News.
The incident began on the first floor of the Blum Student Union at approximately 4:30 p.m. Friday. Missouri Western student Dossou Nidaye noticed a person on campus wearing the red MAGA hat and asked him to take it off, according to a video she posted with her friend Andrea Gordon explaining the situation. The disagreement moved to the second floor of Blum, where Missouri Western police officers got involved, trying to defuse the situation.
Since the confrontation, a student gathering has been announced for Monday in the Blum Student Union Lobby at noon to discuss the issue.
In the video posted by Nidaye and Andrea Gordon, Nidaye presented her version of the events:
“The way it happened was we were downstairs in Blum and the kid walked in with his hat, and when he was coming towards the food court and his friends just started tapping him and I looked around and it was mostly African American people at the time and we were all kind of uncomfortable–we were all looking at him,” Nidaye said.
“So I went up to him peacefully and I said, ‘Hey, why are you wearing that hat? Why do you think it’s okay to wear that on this campus?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ and took the hat off. And that was that and I was going to end like that, but this older white man came up from behind me and was like, ‘shut up,’, walked past me, got me out of the way and said shut up and told him, ‘No, don’t listen to her–put it back on.’ I turned around to him and I said, ‘Why do you think that’s okay? Why are you telling him that and to put it back on?’”
After some time had passed, the unidentified student spoke to Nidaye and said he should be able to wear the hat and that he was just a 17-year old getting ready for prom.
According to the North Platte school district’s website, the Dearborn-based school will be holding its prom this evening in the Blum Student Union. The Griffon News has not yet been able to ascertain the name of the high school student or man accompanying him to reach them for comment.
According to an eyewitness, the high school student went up the stairs to the second floor of Blum and Nidaye followed him. At that point, in front of the Center for Student Involvement, campus police officers intervened.
In the Griffon News video, Nidaye can be heard saying, “[The hat] is a symbol of white supremacy and I don’t want to see that. I wake up every day and see my people getting killed.”
One of the two officers at the scene can be heard in the video saying the confrontation needed to be resolved and to not tell him that he doesn’t understand the situation.
“What we’re doing right now doesn’t help the matter,” one of the officers said. “Don’t tell me what I do and don’t know. I’m not going to tell you what you do and don’t know, so don’t do the same to me.”
The confrontation ended with Nidaye saying to the police officer, “I don’t want to talk calmly. I want him to take it off.”
Update: Missouri Western Police Chief Jill Voltmer said the department stands by Missouri Western’s statement. An incident report was taken as well.
At 3:48 p.m. Saturday, MWSU President Robert Vartabedian released a statement about the incident. In that statement, he said:
“As a campus community, we cherish the freedom of expression guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and we have an obligation to protect that freedom for our students, employees and visitors. Equally important is that we exercise our freedom of expression in a way that respects the inherent worth of each individual on our diverse campus. Ideally, we would express our views and listen to views different from our own not with an intent to start or win an argument, but to understand and be understood. That can be a challenge in a community like Missouri Western’s, where we have such a diversity of backgrounds and opinions. But it is vital. It is my hope that this incident can spark a period of reflection and conversation that will deepen all of our understanding of these two core values, freedom and respect.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer will be hosting an open forum on Monday at 5 p.m in Blum 222-223 so the campus community can voice their thoughts on the issue.
“I think we have seen in other situations where there has been video that there is often more than what a video shows. I think that when it comes to issues like this that there is always different perspectives, I think that we put our own perspectives on what we’re seeing and we don’t always have the entire picture,” Meyer said.
Meyer said that students who don’t feel comfortable participating in the open forum are welcome to come by her office in Blum 228 to discuss the matter.