Ohio State administrator’s call for compassion causes controversy

People are calling for the termination of an Ohio State University administrator after she published a post on Facebook asking for compassion toward the man suspected of attacking students, staff and faculty on campus Monday.

OSU assistant director of residence life Stephanie Clemons Thompson wrote on Facebook that Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the alleged attacker, “was a BUCKEYE, a member of our family.”

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Artan, a 20-year-old student who enrolled at Ohio State this fall, drove a car into a crowd of people on Monday before he crashed and started slashing victims with a butcher knife. Eleven people were injured in the attack and all of them are expected to survive. Artan was shot and killed by Ohio State Police Officer Alan Horujko shortly after the attack began.

Clemons Thompson said she would “unfriend” anyone who she saw celebrating Artan’s death or sharing photos of his body.

“I pray you find compassion for his life, as troubled as it clearly was. Think of the pain he must have been in to feel that his actions were the only solution,” Clemons Thompson wrote. “We must come together in this time of tragedy.”

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The administrator’s Facebook account appears to have since been deactivated and she could not be reached to comment on Friday.

“This post from this individual is clearly not a representation of the university,” said OSU vice president of media and public relations Chris Davey.

Davey said the university does not plan on investigating the social media post.

The post spurred the creation of a Change.org petition calling on the university to fire Clemons Thompson. As of 4:30 p.m. Friday the petition had garnered more than 1,800 signatures.

“As a community and university, we cannot allow our leadership to justify and defend the horrific act of terror against dozens, potentially hundreds and thousands, of innocent Buckeye students and staff on Monday morning,” the petition reads. “We cannot allow someone in her influential position to be an apologist to these acts of violent terror.”

An ISIS news agency on Tuesday called Artan “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”

Clemons Thompson also used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in her post, referencing the social movement advocating for fair treatment of African Americans by police. Her use of the hashtag was another point of criticism made in the online petition.

The petition accused the administrator of using Black Lives Matter as a “defense to these heinous acts” to promote “violent and racially divided rhetoric.”

The university has not received a formal petition, Davey said, although he acknowledged officials are aware of the one circulating online.