A University of Missouri media professor who was widely ridiculed on social media for calling for a student reporter to be physically harassed with “some muscle” was formally charged with misdemeanor assault charges.
Melissa Click was charged today by a city prosecutor for third-degree assault charges, and she could face up to 15 days of jail if found guilty, a spokesperson for the Columbia, Missouri prosecutor told NBC News.
I don't even mind that things took this long. The City Prosecutor obviously had a lot to weigh.
— Kayla Schierbecker (@Schierbecker) January 25, 2016
Click was caught on camera trying to prevent student reporter Mark Schierbecker and ESPN photographer Tim Tai from covering a campus protest at the University of Virginia about alleged racist incidents late last year. At one point Click called for other protesters to bring in “some muscle” to prevent the reporters from filming.
“Click’s actions reflect a broader problem that students and journalists are facing on college campuses. I don’t want anyone to assume that because the city is dealing with her criminal behavior, that this problem goes away,” Schierbecker said in a statement.
“I am urging the University to enact reasonable protections that ensure journalists can gather news without being strong-armed. Missouri started working on this problem this summer with the passing of the Campus Free Expression Act, but there still remains much to be done to ensure that Mizzou can be a safe space for journalists,” Schierbecker added.
At one point Tai was surrounded by protesters, who chanted “hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go.” The incident was credited with sparking a debate about the endangerment of free speech on campus.
Click will plead not guilty to the charges, ABC 17 reports.