UNF: Student suspended for 'threatening' social media posts

Student who identifies himself as white supremacist says he stands by comments

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The University of North Florida has suspended a student who posted a "threatening message and a disturbing image," on social media, UNF President John Delaney said Tuesday night. 

The student, Ken Parker, identifies himself as a white supremacist and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. He posted a photo of himself with a gun on Facebook on Tuesday night and made controversial comments on the Facebook page of the UNF campus newspaper, the Spinnaker. 

"A gun being posted, obviously he wasn't on-campus, but there were a lot of things that were unclear at that time," said Spinnaker editor-in-chief Tiffany Salemeh.

Parker told News4Jax that he didn't have any intentions of harming the school and the posts weren't meant to threaten the student body, but he stands by the comments he made toward the on-campus group, Students for a Democratic Society, which is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I don’t think a suspension is worth anything, obviously, the ultimate goal was for me to get my degree. If I get suspended, obviously, that’s not going to happen," said Parker, who served in the military and has been attending UNF for the last two years. 

Delaney said no one has been harmed and he does not believe there is an actual threat to the campus; however, the student is only allowed on campus if he's with police -- pending a conduct hearing Monday.

The university is investigating the posts as an act of racism. 

The university president said last month's incident involving a Snapchat in which students mocked a Black Lives Matter rally is different than the posts that Parker made.

"It was protected by free speech. All we can do is condemn. We can't censor in this case," Delaney told News4Jax. "The context is different with a threat of violence that does allow us to act. Speech is free. Conduct is a different story."

Salemah said she doesn't think the posts will change the university's safe environment.

"I hope students feel safe when they come to UNF," she said. "As a student, I've never felt unsafe before."

Delaney said the University Police Department has 36 uniform and plainclothes officers on campus to make sure everyone is safe, and there are no current plans to add to the force.

If anyone sees something concerning on campus, Delaney said, call the UPD at 904-620-2800. 

The UNF Counseling Center can be reached at 904-620-2602 if students need someone to talk to.

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