A college professor has apologized after he likened the Black Lives Matter movement to the racism of the Ku Klux Klan.
Douglas Muir, an adjunct professor for the University of Virginia, wrote in a Facebook comment last week that Black Lives Matter is the “biggest” racist organization since the KKK. The comment was written last week in response to a Facebook post about a Black Lives Matter event in Charlottesville.
On Oct. 11, Muir issued a statement saying he was wrong, according to the Daily Progress.
“I was wrong in my comparison and want to offer my profound apologies for my words,” Muir said, according to the paper. “To my students, the University of Virginia, the citizens of Charlottesville and the thousands of responders, I am truly sorry. I have been saddened by the pain it has caused this wonderful community.”
After Muir’s initial Facebook comment, university officials issued statements denouncing his words and distancing themselves from Muir. The professor agreed to go on leave, according to the university.
A university spokesman said Wednesday that the school did not take disciplinary actions against Muir and that he is expected to return to his classes Oct. 17, according to the Associated Press.
Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy also took to social media to criticize Muir for his comments and called on people to boycott Muir’s restaurant business in the city.
“The notion that #BlackLivesMatter can be comparable to the Klu Klux Klan is not only incredibly misguided, but goes to show the lack of cultural awareness that still plagues many professors at our Universities across the country,” Bellamy wrote on his Instagram.
Bellamy went on to say that the Black Lives Matter movement is not a terrorist organization, but, rather, a group that aims to “address systemic oppression and racism.”
Efforts to reach Muir, a resident of Charlottesville, for comment last week were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the phone at Bella’s Restaurant in Charlottesville, which Muir owns, said he is out of town. School officials say Muir will issue his own statement to the community.
His Black Lives Matter comment, which has since been deleted, was in reference to an event featuring movement co-founder Alicia Garza as a speaker. The event was held Tuesday at Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.
“Black Lives Matter aims to end state-sanctioned violence once and for all,” Garza told the audience at the event, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We are fighting for the sanctity and dignity of all of us, and not just for black men. We are fighting for black men, black queer people, black trans people, immigrants and the disabled community.”
A local real estate agent who attended the event posted a picture of Garza to his Facebook page and wrote that she is “working for dignity for everyone.”
Muir responded, saying, “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organisation (sic) since the clan (sic). Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!”
A Charlottesville resident later took a screenshot of Muir’s comments and alerted university officials through social media.
“It is unacceptable for one of your lecturers to be comparing #BLM to the Klan,” Joe Starsia wrote on Twitter.
Tom Katsouleas, University of Virginia’s executive vice president and provost, said in a statement on Friday that he’s “disturbed and saddened” by Muir’s comments.
“The University of Virginia stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind,” Katsouleas said. “Statements such as Mr. Muir’s do not foster intellectual exploration, nor do they encourage the voices of others.”
In a statement issued on the same day, officials from the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science said Muir’s “entirely inappropriate” comments raised concerns about the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The university’s Darden School of Business also released a statement saying Muir’s comments don’t represent the school’s viewpoint or values.
Muir is an adjunct lecturer at both the engineering and business schools.
This post has been updated.