In this photo taken from video provided by Stacey J....

In this photo taken from video provided by Stacey J. Spiehler, hecklers shout at a pro-Palestinian protester at the University of Mississippi, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Oxford, Miss. The hecklers vastly outnumbered pro-Palestine demonstrators and video shot by a student journalist showed one white heckler making monkey gestures and noises at a Black woman who was supporting pro-Palestinian protesters. Credit: AP/Stacey J. Spiehler

JACKSON, Miss. — Israel-Hamas war demonstrations at the University of Mississippi turned ugly this week when one counter-protester appeared to make monkey noises and gestures at a Black student in a raucous gathering that was endorsed by a far-right congressman from Georgia.

“Ole Miss taking care of business,” Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Collins wrote Friday on the social platform X with a with a link to the video showing the racist jeers.

The Associated Press left voicemail messages for Collins on Friday at his offices in Georgia and Washington and sent an email to his spokesperson, asking for an explanation of what Collins meant. There was no immediate response.

The taunting brought sharp criticism on and off campus.

“Students were calling for an end to genocide. They were met with racism,” James M. Thomas, a sociology professor at the University of Mississippi, wrote Friday on X.

The Rev. Cornell William Brooks, a former president and CEO of the NAACP and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, wrote on X that a white man mocking a Black woman as a monkey “isn’t about ‘Stand With Israel’ or ‘Free Palestine.’ This is protest as performative racism.”

Collins was first elected to Congress in 2022 and made several social media posts criticizing campus protests.

University of Mississippi student and counter-protester Connor Moore, center, taunts...

University of Mississippi student and counter-protester Connor Moore, center, taunts graduate student Jaylin R. Smith with a piece of bread during a protest in support of Palestinians on Thursday, May 2, 2024, outside the J.D. Williams Library on the school campus in Oxford, Miss. Credit: AP/HG Biggs

Nobody was arrested during the demonstration Thursday at the University of Mississippi, where hecklers vastly outnumbered war protesters. According to a count by AP, more than 2,400 arrests have occurred on 46 U.S. university or college campuses since April 17 during demonstrations against the war.

The student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, reported about 30 protesters on the Oxford campus billed themselves as UMiss for Palestine. Videos and photos from the event showed the protesters were in a grassy area near the main library, blocked off by barriers erected by campus security.

They chanted “Free, free Palestine," and carried Palestinian flags and signs with slogans including, “Stop the Genocide" and “U.S. bombs take Palestine lives.”

Student journalist Stacey J. Spiehler shot video that showed campus police officers and the dean of students standing between anti-war protesters and hecklers. After the Black woman protesting the war had what appeared to be a heated exchange of words with several white hecklers, one of the men made the monkey gestures and noises at her.

In this photo taken from video provided by Stacey J....

In this photo taken from video provided by Stacey J. Spiehler, a pro-Palestinian protester is confronted by hecklers at the University of Mississippi, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Oxford, Miss. The hecklers vastly outnumbered pro-Palestine demonstrators and video shot by a student journalist showed one white heckler making monkey gestures and noises at a Black woman who was supporting pro-Palestine protesters. Credit: AP/Stacey J. Spiehler

About 76% of the university's students were white and about 11% were Black in 2022-23, the most recent data available on the school's website.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the school is committed to people expressing their views. He said some statements made on campus Thursday were “offensive and unacceptable."

In another statement Friday, Boyce said one “student conduct investigation” had been opened and university leaders were “working to determine whether more cases are warranted.”

“To be clear, people who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus,” he said.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves reposted a video on X that showed counter-protesters on the campus singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Warms my heart,” Reeves wrote. “I love Mississippi!”

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