The UGA chapter of the United Campus Workers of Georgia is gathering signatures online and in person in defense of Irami Osei-Frimpong, a PhD student and teaching assistant in philosophy who was targeted by a right-wing publication for online comments he made about race.
Last fall, Osei-Frimpong wrote on Facebook that "some White people may have to die for Black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance freedom."
A recent graduate confronted Osei-Frimpong at a Young Democrats meeting and wrote about the TA's social media musings for the conservative organization Campus Reform, sparking widespread accusations of racism and advocating violence, although Osei-Frimpong has clarified multiple times that he was referring to the historical fact that white people have died in the past fighting for and against white supremacy.
When the conservative activist began contacting alumni to urge them to stop donating to the university unless Osei-Frimpong is fired, UGA issued a statement saying it is "vigorously exploring all available legal options."
The university's response "has come perilously close to caving to an outside organization's attempt to squelch academic freedom at UGA," says an accompanying letter from the UCWGA signed by nine faculty and staff members.
UCWGA volunteers collecting signatures at The Arch on Wednesday said that the petition will be delivered to UGA President Jere Morehead on Friday.
Another local progressive group, Athens for Everyone, also issued a statement in support of Osei-Frimpong.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition seeking his dismissal—while falsely stating that he "called for death to white people"—has drawn more than 400 signatures.