Las Vegas professor tells students Donald Trump incites violence after mass shooting

'Right so far all he has done is to encourage violence,' says university teacher

Maya Oppenheim
Tuesday 10 October 2017 12:15 BST
According to a student, the teacher’s comments sparked a shouting match in the classroom
According to a student, the teacher’s comments sparked a shouting match in the classroom (Reuters)

A professor from Las Vegas has suggested Donald Trump must take some blame for the mass shooting which plagued the city because he has encouraged violence during his presidency.

The US was catapulted into a state of shock just over a week ago after a gunman opened fire on an outdoor country music event and killed 58 and injured more than 500.

Tessa Winkelmann, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, works just minutes away from the strip where the killing spree took place.

Four days after the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Ms Winklemann told her history students people are likely to die because of Mr Trump’s tenure. She said she predicted President Trump’s election would cause death.

“Right when he got elected, I told my classes, three semesters ago, that some of us won’t be affected by this presidency, but others are going to die,” Ms Winkelmann said to her class on Thursday in a video obtained by the Las Vegas-Review Journal.

She added: "And we’ve seen this happen right? I don’t know that these events would have inevitably happened whether or not he got elected, but he has rhetorical powers every president has to encourage or to discourage [violence]. Right so far all he has done is to encourage violence."

While Ms Winkelmann did not explicitly refer to the Vegas carnage in the video, she cited President Trump’s violent, aggressive threats towards North Korea as an example of how rhetoric can lead to violence.

She said: “And words, especially if they are coming from someone who is president, have consequences.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemned Ms Winklemann and argued the academic should be ashamed of herself.

“It is sad she is teaching students such divisive, inaccurate and irresponsible rhetoric,” Ms Sanders told the publication. “She should be ashamed of herself, and the university should look into it. What a terrible example to set for students.”

According to a student, the teacher’s comments sparked a shouting match in the classroom.

Ms Winklemann has since apologised for her remarks, saying: “I regret that my comments caused more pain during this difficult time. Emotions were running high, and I wish I would have been more thoughtful in how I directed the conversation.”

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has not yet stated whether Ms Winkelmann will be reprimanded for her remarks.

“While we respect academic freedom in the classroom and the right to free speech, we believe the comments were insensitive, especially given the series of events this week and the healing process that has begun in the community,” University spokesman Tony Allen said in a statement.

This is not the first time President Trump has been a source of tension and friction in the classroom. The billionaire property developer is said to be a divisive issue among teachers and students alike.

Last month, a Maths teacher at River Ridge High School near Atlanta prohibited students from wearing t-shirts bearing President Trump’s signature campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. The principal immediately apologised to both the students and their families for what had happened.

In a similar vein, back in June, a New Jersey student called Grant Bernardo wore a “Trump Make America Great Again” t-shirt on school picture day. However, when his yearbook arrived he found the lettering on his shirt had been digitally removed and he had been left simply wearing a plain black top.

"He was disappointed. This was the first election he has been interested in," his father, Joseph Berardo, said at the time.

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