At the University of Missouri, student activists succeeded this week in forcing the resignation of President Timothy M. Wolfe, charging that he has not done enough to address persistent racism on campus. Tim Tai, a University of Missouri student, got a freelance assignment from ESPN to photograph the reaction of victorious activists at the tent city they set up in a public area of campus. As a matter of law, he had an indisputable First Amendment right to photograph events transpiring outdoors on public property.
But student activists did not want their tent city or the people in it photographed, and forcibly prevented him from taking pictures. “We ask for no media in the parameters so the place where people live, fellowship, and sleep can be protected from twisted insincere narratives,” a Twitter account associated with the activists later declared, adding that “it’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces.” Tim Tai is Asian American.
“We’re documenting historic events with our photographs, and when people are crying and hugging when Wolfe resigns, it becomes a personal issue that people all over the country can connect with,” Taiexplained in an interview with The New York Times. “It’s my job to help connect those people to what’s going on.”
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