A former adjunct professor at St. John’s University is now suing the school, claiming he was terminated for an unjust complaint against him.
Former police officer Richard Taylor, 46, was an adjunct history professor at the college, where he taught a class about the Columbian Exchange, which included the movement of plants, animals, technology, disease and more between the Old World, West Africa, and the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Critically, it also included the movement of slaves.
The class was part of a larger course, ‘History 1000: Emergence of a Global Society.’
Richard Taylor, 46, is suing St. John’s University after he was fired as an adjunct professor
Taylor was teaching a lesson on the Columbian Exchange when he claims he asked students to delve into the pros and cons of the trade, which included the trade of slaves at the time
Towards the end of the class on the Columbian Exchange in September, Taylor allegedly asked students to justify slavery, leading to at least one complaint against him.
The person who filed the complaint remains anonymous.
Taylor disagreed with the characterization that his prompt at the end of the class was racist.
‘I was asking them about the overall pros and cons of the Old World and the New World coming together,’ Taylor tells the NY Post. ‘Slavery was a small part of the overall discussion.’
After a complaint was filed, Taylor was fired from his job, though he remains a student at SJU
He claims he asked if ‘the positives justify the negatives’ and did not make an attempt to justify slavery.
After the complaint, however, he was taken out of the classroom and later fired from his $15,000 adjunct professor position, which he has held since 2015.
Taylor remains a doctoral candidate at the school, where he researches the militarization of the NYPD, which he was a member of for over 10 years before retiring on medical disability, according to his LinkedIn profile.
‘Nobody ever called the class racist before,’ Taylor told the post.
One potential reason Taylor could’ve lost his job was the mobilization of a student activist group against him.
The SJU Radicals, an activist group, targeted Taylor in a campaign after the complaint
The SJU Radicals – now known as We Are the Radicals – began a campaign against Taylor days after the complaint was filed, which involved writing letters and calling out Taylor on social media.
One letter read: ‘It is outrageous that in 2020, our Black students are endangered by disgusting rhetoric used by a Professor, an individual who has a responsibility to adhere to the mission of our university to uphold a global community, to speak of slavery as if there was ‘good’ to come from it.’
They also went through his Twitter account, which appeared to show beliefs that the SJU Radicals argued were racist.
A tweet tagging Ben Shapiro read: ‘Cancel culture is coming for me at St John’s University in Queens. They are singleing out that I am a former cop and posting lies, any advice?’
Taylor tagged Ben Shapiro, among others, in an attempt to get help for ‘cancel culture’
Taylor appeared to like a tweet that called Black Lives Matter a ‘domestic Terrorist Group’
Taylor also threatened to swing at Black Lives Matter supporters who raised their fists
In a tweet, he said he would be ‘going down swinging’ if Black Lives Matter supporters around him raised their fists.
Taylor also appeared to like a tweet that called Black Lives Matter a ‘domestic Terrorist Group.’
The SJU Radicals also cited his record as a police officer in their complaints against Taylor. They claimed he ‘repeatedly exhibited predatorial, racist behavior’ based off four incidents between 2005 and 2007 that involved accusations of ‘discourtesy,’ ‘physical force’ and ‘offensive language’.
However, none of the allegations were substantiated.
Taylor and his lawyers say they haven’t been presented with evidence to justify his firing, nor have they been able to appeal the dismissal.
‘I contacted them and asked them if we could sit down and discuss this,’ Ronald G. Russo, an alum of the law school, said. ‘I never even got a response.’
‘The issue was brought forward by multiple students,’ former SJU Radical Farudh Majid said. ‘They told me they were having an online session and the topic of slavery came up and he asked about the pros and cons of slavery.’
While the lawsuit proceeds, a petition on Change.org has garnered over 470 signatures to have Taylor reinstated to his position.
‘We ask that you sign this petition to help Prof. Taylor have his job back,’ the petition reads. ‘He does not deserve to have his life ruined for a misunderstanding.’