Anti-racism rally to be held in DCU after complaints over lecturer’s comments

DCU Students’ Union has said it believes “privately held racism is racism”

Students at Dublin City University (DCU) are organising a Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally at the university tomorrow (November 26), after public complaints made about statements made by a member of staff. The statements included criticism of the BLM movement.

The controversy began when students made posts on Snapchat and Twitter with screenshots from the blog run by Dr Mark Humphrys, a lecturer in computing at DCU.

In the blog post, Humphrys said that the BLM movement is “nonsense built on sand” and that “George Floyd was another useless criminal who dug his own grave”. He also described protests about the “fake problem” of police racism in the US as “utterly evil”.

The post, as well as others on Humphrys’ blog and Twitter account, were condemned by both DCU students and others online.

Posts on Humphrys’ Twitter and blog over the last few years include sharing material from the far-right Irish Freedom Party, descriptions of Islam as not being practiced by “normal people” and not being “compatible with the West”, repeated repudiation of the idea that Black people are systemically discriminated against in the US, and statements including “WHY blacks commit more crime is a serious question”.

Humphrys also says on his website that it is his policy to block on Twitter any Jewish person who is “anti-Israel”.

DCU issued a statement on Tuesday (November 23) in which it said it was “aware” of the lecturer’s online presence. It also said that “the issues discussed and views expressed by the individual are done so [sic] in a personal capacity”.

Links to Humphrys’ blog and Twitter account, as well as several videos outlining some of his political views, were present on his official DCU staff webpage as recently as March 2019. Before then, there had been links on the university page to his political blogs since 2004.

By January 2020, the section of the page containing the links and videos was removed.

“We understand and acknowledge that people will find parts of this blog offensive,” the university’s statement continued.

“DCU is deeply committed to promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion [sic]. The university does not endorse any of the viewpoints expressed in this blog and they do not reflect the views of the university, its staff or student body.”

Speaking to Trinity News, Christine O’Mahony, one of the organisers of the BLM rally, said: “Myself and Darragh Adelaide decided to organise this protest after the controversial professor’s website was exposed on Twitter”.

She said that they “looked at the rest of the website and found more abhorrent, racist and islamaphobic content”.

She continued: “We didn’t think the university’s statement was good enough and want some accountability.”

“However, Friday’s protest is not just about one incident, it’s about many incidents of racism on DCU campus. We are holding the protest to provide a safe space for Black, Muslim and students of colour to vent their frustrations.”

In a statement, Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) encouraged students to attend tomorrow’s rally. The union said it “share[s] in the outrage expressed by students over these last number of days”.

“Privately held racism is racism,” the statement continued. “DCUSU will not perpetuate the lie that racism can be left at the door.”

“It is our view that universities cannot claim to be anti-racist while employing anyone who shares racist views.”

Speaking to Trinity News, Humphrys said that DCUSU’s statement was “disgusting libel” and “actionable”.

Asked if he planned to pursue legal action against the union, he said “that is one option” but that his “preferred option would be for them to withdraw their libel”.

On Tuesday (November 23), Humphrys also released a public statement in which he said he “never showed” his views on Black Lives Matter “to any students” and does not “discuss politics with students ever”.

Additionally, he said that his views are “nothing to do with DCU”.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.