A University of Missouri-Kansas City labor studies professor says she has been bombarded by “ugly e-mails and scary telephone calls” since a political website posted what school officials say was a doctored video suggesting she supports union violence.
In response, UMKC has posted uniformed police — and others in civilian clothes — in and around Judy Ancel’s classroom, said university spokesman John Austin.
A second instructor shown in the video, Don Giljum, said he has received two death threats since Monday, when the video appeared on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site.
Giljum has since resigned as adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The Internet video purports to show the professors advocating violence while team-teaching — by videoconference — a class on labor, politics and society.
But in a statement released Thursday, UMKC provost Gail Hackett said the video was edited and rearranged to depict their statements “in an inaccurate and distorted manner.”
Ancel said that in one snippet, “Giljum’s clothing changes midsentence.”
Breitbart did not respond Friday to e-mails seeking comment. His posting, however, prompted a number of threatening comments on the Big Government site.
One responder talked about buying ammo and added, “I won’t shoot first, but I do expect to shoot last.”
Ancel, who directs UMKC’s Institute for Labor Studies, issued a statement Friday.
“My students and I are outraged at Mr. Breitbart’s invasion of our classroom and his attempts to intimidate us and my colleagues at the university,” she wrote.
Later, Ancel said she was speaking for herself, not the university.
Ancel said comments made by the instructors over several days were snipped, moved and pasted together so they appeared to endorse violence.
“This is in fact the opposite of the position both instructors took in class,” Ancel said.
The class, a collaboration between UMKC and UMSL, is regularly recorded as a reference for students. The video is posted on a closed-circuit university bulletin board and requires a student’s or instructor’s password to access. Ancel has halted further video recording of the class.
She and Giljum said they believe a student may have helped Big Government gain access to the recorded lecture.
Ancel said any examination of labor history would be incomplete without looking at union violence, and she gave examples of how those discussions were altered.
In Breitbart’s version, she is shown telling her students, “Violence is a tactic, and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic.”
In reality, she said, students were discussing nonviolence after watching a film on the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King.
“I said, ‘One guy in the film said violence is a tactic, and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic.’ … Breitbart took out the part about me saying ‘one guy in the film.’ His editing has literally put words in my mouth that were not mine,” Ancel said.
Giljum’s resignation came after 10 years of teaching at the St. Louis campus, where administrators declined to give details on why Giljum left.
“We are very limited in what we can or will say in response to individual personnel issues,” spokesman Bob Samples said. “Mr. Giljum offered to resign, and UMSL accepted his resignation.”
But Giljum said administrators asked him to resign, cancel his last class and leave immediately.
“I did not want to,” he said.
Giljum said he is confident his students will confirm he didn’t promote violence.
“If they say I did, then I owe them all a huge apology because I failed as a teacher.”
Giljum was scheduled to retire Sunday as business manager for Operating Engineers Local 148 but opted to leave Thursday.