NJ college: Professor fired for racially insensitive remarks

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NEWARK (AP) - A New Jersey community college has fired an adjunct professor after officials say she made racially insensitive comments on Fox News.

Essex County College's president announced the decision Friday, two weeks after Lisa Durden's appeared on "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

College officials said they received complaints about Durden's interview with Carlson. Durden, who is black, discussed a Memorial Day event held exclusively for black people hosted by a Black Lives Matter group.

When Carlson asked her thoughts, Durden interrupted the host, saying: "Boo hoo hoo. You white people are angry because you couldn't use your white privilege card" to attend the event.

The show aired June 6, and the school suspended Durden with pay two days later. She addressed the matter during a public meeting Tuesday with school officials, but was soon fired.

Essex County College President Anthony Munroe said the school "supports and affirms the right of free speech and independent views and expressions of those views" for faculty and staff. He also noted that although Durden did not mention her affiliation with the school during her television appearance or claim to be representing its views, "her employment with us and potential impact on students required our immediate review into what seemed to have become a very contentious and divisive issue."

Durden has said the school "publicly lynched" her.

Durden told NJ.com on Friday that she has received a lot of support from school staff members and students, but compared her experience to a rape victim who is blamed for the crime, and a person who returns from war to a hostile environment.

Durden's attorney, Leslie Farber, said she believes her client's free speech rights were violated. Farber said they were considering whether to take legal action in the matter.

"I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students to explore, discuss and debate, not only academic philosophies, but the harder issues related to living harmoniously and growing together in our communities and as a country," Munroe wrote in a statement announcing the firing. "The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism."

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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