An assistant engineering professor at the University of Arkansas says he and his wife were forced to stay with friends over the weekend after amateur internet sleuths mistakenly identified him as a torch-bearing white nationalist in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mr. Quinn told The New York Times that he was in Bentonville, Arkansas, touring an art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Friday night as white nationalist groups descended on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a 1924 statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
On Saturday, social media sleuths mistakenly identified Mr. Quinn as a participant in the Charlottesville rally, based on a photo of a man of similar resemblance wearing an “Arkansas Engineering” shirt.
Mr. Quinn told The New York Times that he was swarmed with social media messages calling for his firing. He said he and his wife had to stay with a colleague over the weekend, because they feared for their safety.
“You have celebrities and hundreds of people doing no research online, not checking facts,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to helping all people, trying to improve health care and train the next generation of scientists, and this is potentially throwing a wrench in that.”
The University of Arkansas College of Engineering confirmed in a statement that no faculty were involved with the Charlottesville rallies, which turned violent Saturday resulting in the killing of a 32-year-old woman.
The engineering department said it “condemns racism and bigotry in the strongest possible terms. We celebrate our diversity and are committed to providing a safe environment for our students.”
“While we cannot control what someone buys or wears, we will stand strong on our values and will continue to support all students regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity,” the department said. “We can confirm that no College of Engineering faculty were involved in the protest.”
The actual man in the Charlottesville photo has not been conclusively identified, The New York Times reported.
“Whoever wore the shirt obviously does not represent my values, the values of the College of Engineering or the U of A,” Mr. Quinn tweeted Sunday. “Thank you for all those who are supporting me through this case of mistaken identity.”
© Copyright (c) 2017 News World Communications, Inc.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.