A Johns Hopkins associate research professor has been fired from the University for jeopardizing student safety after he attempted to break into a Maryland campus building with bolt cutters to stop a student protest.
Around midnight on May 7, Daniel Povey, 43, led a break-in of Garland Hall in the middle of the night during a monthlong sit-in by students protesting a bill that would implement an armed campus police force and the school's contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A sit-in is a form of nonviolent protest that involves people occupying an area to promote political social or economic change.
Povey says he was frustrated by the protesters after they blocked windows and chained doors, forcing the administration to close the building during the final week of the school's spring semester. Povey, a speech recognition researcher was responsible for maintaining servers for Hopkin's Center for Language and Speech Processing, located inside Garland Hall, according to the Baltimore Sun.
"Being frustrated as the prospect of a long siege at Garland where our computer servers live, I organized a group of what I called "counter-protesters" to try to regain control of the building from the students," Povey said in a statement. "This was on the evening of May 8th; there was a scuffle and I was carried out of the building by the protesters. They then made allegations to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), saying that I had attacked them."
Povey also posted the termination letter online, which carries out on Aug. 31, to give students under him the time to find a new advisor.
The OIE has been investigating the allegations that Povey engaged in violent and aggressive behavior during the incident at Garland Hall, as well as complaints that his conduct was racially motivated. The investigation from the OIE used a quote from Povey saying "we were met with more violence than we anticipated," as an admission of guilt. During the lockdown of Garland Hall, seven protesters were arrested, four of them being students.
"By your own admissions, your actions were premeditated and you expected that your actions could result in a violent confrontation with students and others in or around Garland Hall," the termination letter from Vice Dean for Faculty, Andrew Douglas stated. "In fact, you believed the group of non-affiliates you brought with you could become violent. As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, you created a dangerous situation that could have ended in serious harm to our students, yourself, and others in the community."
Povey argued that quote stemmed from him shrugging to lawyers after they asked if he was confident the non-affiliated group brought to Garland would be able to follow instructions no matter what happened.
In the statement released by Povey, he argued the protesters actually harmed and scratched him. He also believes "whites, or white males are being discriminated against." and he is expected to behave like a "neutered puppy-dog"
Hours before he tried to break into Garland, Povey showed up with signs that read “Enough With The Progressive [expletive],” “Don’t Make Me Tell Your Mom” and “Let us get back to work.”
“It was clear to me they weren’t going to get what they wanted and they were wasting our times,” Povey told the Baltimore Sun.
Povey was originally placed on administrative leave following the incident before being fired.
Hopkins spokesperson Karen Lancaster in a statement, “the safety, security, and protection of our students and others are of paramount importance to the University. "[based on the] undisputed facts of the case, the University took interim and now permanent action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community.”
The sit-in group met with University administrators to discuss the new police force and the school's contracts with ICE on July 24, with the next meeting scheduled for Aug. 15.
“I may not have my job," Povey said, "but at least I still have my dignity and my independence of thought.”