'Disgusting and totally inappropriate:' K-State investigates after student's tweet on George Floyd

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 1:22 PM CDT
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Kansas State University responded Friday to a tweet by a one its students, making light of the death of George Floyd.

"Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” Reads the tweet from Jaden McNeil, whose Twitter bio identifies him as the president and founder of “America First Students.”

The tweet went viral with several people calling the message racist and asking the university to punish the student. Others said it was just a joke.

"If it was a joke, it's a racist joke and an inappropriate joke that he made with the intention to be racist," said Cara Bruce, president of K-State's Black Student Union.

K-State released a statement Friday announcing an internal review.

“These divisive statements do not represent for the values of our university. We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms,” the school wrote on Twitter. “Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.”

Athletics Director Gene Taylor called McNeil's tweet “disgusting and totally inappropriate.”

“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,” Taylor wrote.

Several K-State football players quoted the tweet, asking for McNeil to be removed from the school. Defensive back Tee Denson said he would refuse to play for a program that tolerates ignorance.

A group called Foundation for Individual Rights and Education (FIRE) that helps students defend their rights on college campuses said despite the backlash, McNeil's First Amendment rights are still protected.

"These colleges are allowed to criticize the expression, to talk with the students, but the First Amendment limits the types of punishments that the university can impose here. And when we see calls to the university to expel or punish them, we encourage them to uphold the rights of their student," said FIRE Program Officer Zachary Greenberg.

McNeil said he's now been flooded with threats of violence. Eyewitness News reached out to him, but he has yet to respond.