Police to charge U of Oregon instructor in violent assault on student Palestine activists caught on video

University of Oregon instructor James Olmsted (far right) lunges to seize camera of woman fiming his assault on students (Screenshot)

A University of Oregon instructor has been arrested by police, charged with several crimes and barred from campus in relation to an incident in which he allegedly violently assaulted students on campus and stole the phone of one who was documenting what happened.

The incident occurred outside the student union building on the Eugene, Oregon campus on 14 March at a mock checkpoint the students had set up to highlight similarities between the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation and people at the heavily-militarized US-Mexico border.

The campus newspaper Daily Emerald has named the suspect as University of Oregon adjunct law instructor James Olmsted.

Instructor arrested, charged and barred from campus

Phil Weiler, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications at the university, confirmed to The Electronic Intifada in a telephone call that the law school “has reassigned teaching responsibilities for adjunct instructor James Olmsted” to another member of faculty. Weiler added, “This is a personnel decision and we are unable to discuss details of the situation at this time.”

Weiler confirmed that university police had been called to the scene, and later followed up with an email providing details about the charges Olmsted is facing:

James L. Olmsted, 58, of Eugene, was arrested by University of Oregon Police on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. at the Erb Memorial Union, near 13th Avenue and University Street on the UO campus.

Mr. Olmsted was cited in lieu of custody for second-degree theft and two counts of physical harassment. Olmsted was escorted off campus and issued a letter forbidding his return. An investigation is ongoing and other charges may be pending.

Asked if any students would be charged in the incident, Weiler told The Electronic Intifada, “Absolutely not. The students were victims in this situation.” Weiler said university administrators had been “reaching out” to students involved in the incident to ensure that they were receiving appropriate support.

Assailant called for violence before he violently attacked students, videos show

The mock checkpoint was an activity of Students Against Imperialism, a campus group “in support of equitable treatment along the United States-Mexican border which recently combine[d] with the group Students for Palestinian Liberation,” according to the Daily Emerald.

The video above shows Olmsted, wearing a leather jacket, arguing with the students, and becoming progressively more belligerent and using profanity. “If you want this country back, start a fucking war and take it back,” Olmsted says. When one student answers, “that’s not how we have to do things,” Olmsted continues to provoke, answering, “Start a war, get a gun, shoot me first!”

Olmsted then begins to lecture the students that if they want to see change, they have to “get hurt.” A woman responds: “you’re in no point to tell us how to fucking liberate ourselves. You’re the oppressor!”

Olmsted then removes his jacket, as if preparing to fight. Another woman reacts, “This is an aggressive tone. I’m feeling pretty threatened right now.”

The video shows a male student intervening between Olmsted and the women. Olmsted accuses the male student of touching him and violently shoves the student back while becoming more belligerent, and shouting “get away from my space, you prick” while goading the student to attack him.

Olmsted then approaches the woman Jaki Salgado who is shooting the video and demands to know why she is “photographing” the incident and what she plans to do with it.

The male student, while calling for de-escalation, tries to step between Olmsted and the videographer, but Olmsted lunges at Salgado and seizes the camera phone and places it in the back pocket of his jeans.

The video recorder continues to run, capturing audio – from inside Olmsted’s pocket – as voices are heard attempting to reason with Olmsted and convince him to return the camera. A voice also asks if police have been called. Salgado told a local TV station that Olmsted did not return her phone until after police were on the scene.

Olmsted’s attack on the woman and the seizure of her phone was captured in two other brief videos:




University of Oregon officials should immediately place professor/instructor James Olmsted on leave pending his ultimate dismissal. His goose stepping provocations and assaults allegedly filmed by multiple students show he has no place whatsoever teaching University of Oregon students with such an apparent racist and bigoted philosophy.


He did, its in the article. His teaching duties have been reassigned and he was issued a letter saying he was banned from campus.


Not surprised by this at all that these kind of racist are actually teaching in our schools and many get away with it. It happens more often than anyone thinks. He was not just harrassing, he assualted students, physically. It is an assualt once you make physical contact with someone. They should press charges and send him to jail and then sue him for everything he owns. Make an example of him so no one would ever do that ever again to anyone. What a jerk he is. And props to all the students for keeping thier cool, and especially for using cell phones and cameras as a weapon to get the truth out.. good job students, so proud of you.


While the guy is a jerk, how is he racist?


You say "it's assault once you put your hands on somebody." In that case, the original assault occurred when the guy in the blue hat pushed his chest up against Olmsted, and put his hands on Olmsted. Olmsted hadn't touched anybody up to that point. Once the blue hatted man started pushing up against him and grabbing him, that's when Olmsted started pushing back.


Well done students of Oregon for standing up to Olmsted. Speaking as someone who attended many UK protests in the sixties against apartheid, Vietnam etc, it's good to see once again students at the forefront of demanding an end to injustice what ever or where ever it is. I only wish UK students would show a bit more concern, but as zionist sympathisers / activists have levered themselves into positions of power and appear to be more interested in all expenses paid trips to Israel rather than standing up and fighting against oppression and injustice there is not much chance of that happening.


These students know that much worse happens to Palestinians when they non-violently challenge Israeli bullying, abuse, and land theft.

Seventy two Palestinian political prisoners have been tortured to death during Israel’s military occupation of Palestine since 1967.

• According to Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (www.addameer.org), prisoners are routinely tortured during their initial “military interrogation” following arrest.

• In addition, 53 have died from medical neglect.

• As of February 2013 there were 4,812 political prisoners, held (illegally under the 4th Geneva Convention) in 36 Israeli prisons
• These include 168 administrative detainees who can be held without trial for up to 6 months, renewable in 6 month increments indefinitely.

• Also included are 194 children, arrested typically for stone throwing and without family notifications or seized by IOF soldiers from their own homes.

• Some 40% of Palestinian men have been imprisoned at some time.

• These policies of political imprisonment violate Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.


I pray that there are more individuals who promote the liberation of Palestine and wonder why there are so many people supporting Israel. Furthermore, it appears that the Israeli supporters view those that speak out against Israel are antisemites. Why doesn't the media exposé the Israeli Government's xenophobic practices, unethical treatment of Arabs ( look at Nazareth's lack of resources) and blatant disregard of human rights. Lastly, way to go students in your ability to regulate - comical & sad to see that low life prof regress.


I wonder if the students and professor would be willing to create their own type of resolution to this incident in a mediated conversation? He says he agrees with a lot of what they represent. In social justice work, I'm among the activists who are looking for new paradigms for handling disputes that upend the traditional power dynamic, creative nonviolent solutions and responses to conflict. The students demonstrated so many excellent de-escalation skills. It would seem like there exists a more complete resolution to this incident, one that brings all the parties back to wholeness that is not completely satisfied by the professor being removed from campus and his teaching position. A restorative justice mediation could provide a tailored response and provide the second chapter of this "teaching moment" that spontaneously unfolded on campus.


The guy that stepped in and got between the professor and the women was excellent, he stepped in and made himself a barrier while never raising his voice. He was a beacon of calm in the entire argument; I think that those girls could have done better, instead of escalating to his level. There could have been something like "maybe that's how you think it should be done, but this is how we are going to do it."


"The video shows a male student intervening between Olmsted and the women. Olmsted accuses the male student of touching him and ..." Sounds like the student started the violence. Remember with freedom of speech, the prof had a right to express his political beliefs even including profanity.


This was the sardonic comment of a 19th century American writer. American
elections cost more and more money. National political committees received
$200,000 in 1868, nearly $2 million in 1868, $3 1/2 million, $11 million in 1928
increasing expotentially to the multi-billion dollar expenditures of our time. Politics no longer depends on smaller donations, kickbacks and such but more and more on big wealthy contributors. "Corruption in the United States," an American historian has observed "scandalizes...public sensibilities..[but it] is predictable
and systemic.".This is the fabric where AIPAC thrives with deadly efficiency. Protests are manipulated to distract from Congress and S. Res 65.


Also, you might not be aware that in the US blocking a public thoroughfare is a serious charge. Now if you made it clear that it was only a gesture, and that every person was free to continue walking through the public accessible area that might be legal, but if you harassed any person and demanded they show ID or something, you could possibly face criminal charges.

While I feel sympathy with the Palestinian cause, the Mexican grievance that they must show a passport or other ID at the border does not seem to be legitimate. If an American citizen decides to drive up to Montreal, he is expected to have a passport & driver’s license. So is Canada an evil empire oppressing the US? I don’t think so.


I'm glad the students had an opportunity to see an honest law professor who expressed the true basis of US law, that might makes right.

All law students (and everyone else) should read Douglas Blackmon's book, Slavery By Another Name. Neither the Civil War nor the 13th Amendment, nor the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the US. Slavery was established as legal punishment for a crime, and a crime was whatever those in power said it was. Slavery actually became so much worse after "Abolition" that pressure from the Soviet Union, world opinion, and fear of Blacks defecting, forced the US government to intercede and declare that from then on, Blacks could no longer be "convicted of a crime" by being picked up by a deputized Klansman, brought before a KKK magistrate or justice of the peace at a police station or jail, and being sold for "court costs" to a multinational mining corporation that was then free to chain, shackle, starve, and work them to death as a slave.

The new insistence that all convictions be processed in a courthouse and properly recorded, resulted in a real estate development and architectural boom, as districts all over the US raced to construct large and imposing courthouses, and then the prisons to hold those legally sentenced to slavery.

The law is just a sham to given a false veneer of nonviolence to a basically violent system. People are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned or deported for crossing borders that were established by wars of violent aggression, tore apart families, and negated centuries of land ownership.

There can be no justice for the victims in the courts of the victors. Sometimes, decades later, there might be a small cash settlement, but never full restitution. The professor was enraged because students were starting to see through the lies.

Systems and schools of law are not systems or schools of justice.


So glad the University of Oregon is doing the right thing and not only firing this guy but pressing charges. He's pathetic actually. A dinosaur flapping his tail.