University apologizes for professor who said pro-police rally should be called ‘white supremacist rally’

Creighton College Republican President Tyler Henningsen called the professor’s tweet 'morally repugnant'

A Nebraska Jesuit university apologized Friday on behalf of a professor who tweeted that a pro-police rally in Omaha ought to be retitled a “white supremacist rally.”

The July 7 tweet from Zachary B. Smith, an associate professor of theology at Creighton University, was a retweet of an article from the Omaha World-Herald titled: “‘Back the Blue’ rally in Omaha to show support for law enforcement.”

Zachary B. Smith is an associate professor of theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Zachary B. Smith is an associate professor of theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.  (creighton.edu)

Smith offered to “fix” the headline to read: “White supremacist rally in Omaha to showcase Midwestern racism,” according to a screenshot of the tweet from Campus Reform.

The tweet drew immediate backlash, including from the Creighton University College Republicans and the Omaha police union.

“The Creighton University College Republicans condemn this disgusting comments about law enforcement posted by Associate Professor Dr. Zachary Smith,” the group tweeted.

The university issued a statement saying Smith’s view didn’t represent the school. Further, the statement said, Smith “regrets his statement and sincerely apologizes for the offense it has caused.”

Smith’s tweet was deleted Friday and his account now appears to have been taken down.

Creighton College Republican President Tyler Henningsen of Papillion said he first saw the tweet Friday morning. He issued a response calling Smith’s message “morally repugnant,” saying it stood in contrast with Creighton’s Jesuit tradition of pursuing justice.

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“I always have been aware that Creighton is more of a liberal school, but it was very disheartening to see someone who is protected by the Omaha Police Department and the law enforcement around Creighton to nullify them to such an extent where he felt the need to call them ‘white supremacists,’” Henningsen told Campus Reform.

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The episode comes as nationwide protests have taken place to condemn police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed while in police custody.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.