UNF Suspends Student For ‘Threatening’ Social Media Message

Nov 15, 2017

The University of North Florida has suspended a student following a threatening social media message, UNF President John Delaney said Tuesday night.

UNF President John Delaney confirmed suspending student Ken Parker after a threatening message and image was distributed on social media.
Credit Submitted to WJCT News / Via Facebook Messenger

Earlier in the day Delaney issued a statement saying he couldn’t identify the student or actions taken but said the student has since “self-identified to a news organization. This gives me the opportunity to share the facts that the student has released to the media.”

Delaney confirmed the student in question is Ken Parker, who has a history as a white supremacist.

The UNF president says Parker is a former KKK member and now a member of another white supremacist group.

“He posted a photo of himself with a gun in the context of confronting members of a student group, the Students for a Democratic Society, which is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. The photo was taken off campus. The thread of his posts also included a threatening message. These actions led to his immediate suspension. In addition, he has been barred from campus, pending a conduct hearing next week. He can only come on campus when escorted by a police officer,” Delaney wrote in his latest statement.

A screenshot of the social media threat obtained by WJCT News appeared in a Facebook direct message exchange. It shows Parker and was later shared among UNF students.

In the picture, Parker is holding a gun. The message reads in part, “Let SDS and the other clowns come at me, I will shut them down.”

Parker told our News4Jax partner 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," Parker told News4Jax.

Earlier in the day  Delaney dispelled rumors circulating on campus.

“One rumor was that someone had a gun on campus; another was that a building was locked down.  Yet another rumor was that classes have been cancelled. None of these are true. Every such rumor is false,” Delaney said in an email to WJCT News.

Shortly after WJCT News posted an earlier story with Delaney’s comment, a university spokesperson reached out to clarify that UNF professors retain the right to cancel classes.

The spokesperson then confirmed an email that WJCT News received was written by Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Hans-Herbert Koegle. Koegle wrote his students, saying he was canceling his Tuesday night class.

"We are all asked to consider cancelling courses to ensure safety. I have to make a decision now, and it is on the side of caution and safety that I have to err," Koegle wrote.

Delaney said he is “completely satisfied the campus is safe, and I urge everyone to be calm."

The university president also addressed concerns about flyers being posted on campus that read, “It’s OK to be white.” Delaney pointed out those flyers are “part of a national campus movement, specifically intended to be provocative.”

The Washington Post has reported on the movement, writing that posters have been spotted on campuses that include Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of Alberta in Canada.

Delaney said Tuesday that UNF’s police department has "officers, both in uniform and in plain clothes, throughout our campus ensuring safety."

He urged anyone who sees something that concerns them to contact the University Police Department at (904) 620-2800 and reminded the campus community that the UNF Counseling Center is available at  (904) 620-2602.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.