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VCU outraged over violent tweets attributed to student government president

Posted at 4:04 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 19:47:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- VCU President Michael Rao has issued a statement expressing outrage over comments Student Government Association president Taylor Maloney made on social media.

Maloney's tweets, in which they appeared to advocate for the killing of police officers and called for more rioting, were brought to light in a recent online article published by The Post Millennial. Maloney appeared to be posting under a username that did not reveal their identity.

A search on Friday found the account in which the posts were made had been suspended.

"The university unequivocally condemns the calls for violence and the hateful language. These abhorrent posts do not reflect who we are at VCU," a statement from the university read. "While acknowledging the fundamental right to express ourselves, and even to disagree, we must simultaneously recognize how our words can affect the bonds that make us a community. The university is steadfast in its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all. We encourage members of our community — especially those in leadership roles — to model our commitment to civility, professionalism and respect."

The university did not refer to Maloney by name.

It instead called the tweets "social media comments that media outlets are attributing to the outgoing VCU Student Government Association president."

When asked about the tweets, Maloney responded to CBS 6 with the following statement:

“All I would have to ask is in what world would the violence or anger of the oppressed ever be equal to what they face by their oppressor. Not liking cops is not a call to action nor a threat, as a cop can put down their badge at any moment in time. They choose to be cops. I do not choose to be Black, I do not choose to be poor, I do not choose to be non-binary. This violence was implied upon me without any agency."

In an interview with VPM reporter Alan Rodriguez Espinoza, Maloney also defended their comments.

“It's a new Black person I watch die every single week,” Maloney told VPM. “I still need an outlet to be angry about that, and I still need space to say that I don't think this is right.”

Maloney was arrested in July 2020 and charged with trespassing in Monroe Park during a night of social unrest and riots in Richmond.

Maloney was SGA president-elect at the time, according to the Commonwealth Times. The charges against Maloney were set aside and not pursued by prosecutors.

The VCU Student Government Association appropriates money to student organizations, according to its website.

Maloney was elected president in June 2020. The VCU Spring semester ends May 5.

VCU students react to the tweets

Friday afternoon, VCU Freshman, Esther Sobowale and Kailah Pinkey, responded to seeing the tweets for the first time.

"I was shocked and I didn't expect that," said Sobowale.

Pinkey added that she was at a loss for words.

"I don’t even know what to say. It was more just like in disbelief," said Pinkey. "You got to choose your words wisely."

Sobowale said that way of voicing an opinion was not the right way to go, especially for someone in a leadership role.

"We need to be unified and working together," said Sobowale

Sophomore, Luke Williams, said he was also shocked by the tweets.

"It’s just not the answer to the problem," said Williams. "I mean, it’s obviously not a great thing to hear. You know, I mean, I’m mixed. But still, you know, talking about people saying, I hate white people, I hate black people,' it’s always awful to hear."

Meanwhile, A VCU Graduate student who spoke with CBS 6, said while he didn't condone the tweets, he could understand the anger behind them.

"It’s definitely unprofessional and unbecoming of a student body president. It has no place on the internet at all. But at the same time, I can empathize because this is a particularly tough time for people of color," he said.