A very good friend of mine, Steve Taylor, is an adjunct professor at St. Louis Community College in Missouri. He also is a union organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Taylor was violently tackled and slammed into the concrete floor by a policeman, then arrested on October 19th at a St. Louis Community College system board meeting when he got up to question an administration rule that forbid clapping for union speakers. The account of this is detailed in news pieces linked and quoted below.
Taylor was told he was not to set foot on campus again or he would be arrested on felony charges. His email account was suspended and Taylor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was fired. Now the university is back-paddling and says he wasn’t fired. Hard to teach if you can’t set foot on campus.
Taylor suffered a concussion in the incident. I believe what happened at that board meeting is an indicator of the rising fascism we seeing in the shadow of the Trump administration. – Orin Langelle, Co-founder, Global Justice Ecology Project
Footage of the incident
In the video, people can be heard shouting “what are you doing?” and “let him go!” as officer arrested Taylor.
The 53-year-old teaches on the community college system’s Wildwood campus and said that after his arrest he received a letter saying he would no longer be allowed there. He said he views receiving the letter as a firing.
“It was shocking and it all happened so fast,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Later, he added, “I would’ve been willing to leave but I was approached from behind and pulled violently without indication as to who was doing it or why.”
Robert Hertel, president of the National Education Association union for the college, said Taylor sought treatment at a hospital afterward for bruised ribs and injuries to his face and shoulder.
Taylor told the Post-Dispatch that he came to the meeting with prepared statements but ended up speaking out of turn when the board stated that anyone who applauded in response to a union member would be kicked out. These warnings were not given when people clapped for administrators, Taylor said.
“It disturbed me,” Taylor said. “I stood up and said ‘Excuse me, how is it that we can clap for the chancellor and administrators but not for anyone else?’
“Did I speak out of turn? Yes. But I just felt something was really wrong.”
Taylor, who pointed out an annual faculty award he won in 2015, said he had been a part of the adjunct faculty union’s negotiations with administration over pay raises and other issues and was at the meeting to talk about “overarching issues I find really troublesome.”