GODFREY – Chairperson of the Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) Board of Trustees David Heyen has stood by multiple social media posts deemed as offensive and bigoted by many members of the community.
On Thursday, Riverbender.com broke a story, which has now garnered national attention, regarding Facebook shares from a page attributed to Heyen espousing anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and pro-Confederate stances. In a statement to St. Louis-based KSDK (Channel Five), Heyen admitted the page was in fact operated by him, adding it was his own personal page not tied to his position as LCCC trustee chair. It should be noted, however, multiple attempts to reach Heyen by Riverbender.com were not answered, including an email to his personal account, a Facebook message to his personal account, a Facebook message to his candidacy page (which was left on “read”) and an email sent to fellow board member Julie Johnson for whom Heyen campaigned in recent April 2019 elections (Johnson has not been implicated in any sort of controversial or bigoted views, it should be noted).
In a statement to KSDK, Heyen said: “I am relatively new to the concept of social media. I did share some posts in order to generate conversation about various topics on my personal Facebook page. This wasn't done in my official capacity as an LCCC Trustee. This is now being used as a distraction by a small faction of people who are not happy that I have asked tough questions as a trustee.”
Heyen's Facebook has been active since 2012. He has also been active through his candidacy page and on the page dedicated to the campaigns of Johnson, Kevin Rust and Charles Hanfelder called “Candidates for Accountability.” Most of the posts shared had few – if any – reactions.
Here are some of the posts:
According to John Reeves, the author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee, Lee claimed to be against slavery following his surrender to Grant. However, just before the war, Lee oversaw as many as 200 slaves, having managed the enslavement of human beings for as long as three decades at that time.
A BBC report on the religion of Islam did state the Prophet Muhammed “did not try to abolish slavery, and bought, sold, captured and owned slaves himself. But he insisted that the slave owners treat their slaves well and stressed the virtue of freeing slaves.”
As of June 4, 2018, a Vice article claimed as many as 110 Confederate monuments have been taken down in the United States. A 2017 article by CNN said, on average, nine mosques are targeted monthly in the United States with as many as 63 publicly reported incidents from Jan-July 2017. This averaged to roughly two incidents at mosques a week in the United States. These can range from threats to vandalism to arson.
In Iceland, the last “terrorist attack” occurred in 1986 when two environmental activists from the group, Sea Shepherd, sank two whaling vessels in Reykjavik Harbor. Japan, on the other hand, has had several incidents of bombings, kidnappings and airline hijackings. In 1995, a fringe religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo, attacked Tokyo subways with sarin gas, killing 12 and injuring more than 1,000.
There are also as many as 1,000 Muslims in Iceland and between 100,000 and 200,000 Muslims in Japan, where Islam has a long history of being a minority religion for both immigrants and Japanese natives.
Calls for Resignation
In response to Heyen accepting responsibility for those Facebook posts – as well as others blaming foreigners for bringing the now-extinct-in-the-wild disease of smallpox as well as the current problematic diseases of measles and mumps into the country and more venerating the Confederacy, despite Illinois being a staunchly Union state – LCCC Faculty Association President Mike Lemons issued the following statement:
The views expressed by Lewis and Clark Board Chair David Heyen are abhorrent to the Lewis and Clark Faculty Association. Ours is a culture of respect and inclusivity, and we reject completely and without reservation, any rhetoric which would make any of our students feel unwelcome. We serve a diverse community and population. We have a student body that is dynamic and insightful. We want all of them, as well as their families, to know, publicly, that we welcome each and every one of them.
As such, we believe Mr. Heyen is incapable as functioning as an effective leader of our college. While he has every right to his opinions, such views are in direct conflict with our values as a faculty. We repudiate them entirely. Mr. Heyen made a statement to the media admitting that he shared these posts on his Facebook page “to generate conversation about important topics” yet the comments were not only hateful, but patently false. This incident has been a distraction from our mission of educating students. We all want to put it behind us. Therefore, we urge Mr. Heyen to resign, not only as chairman, but also from the Board of Trustees itself.
The college itself was made aware of the posts from Heyen on May 1, following an April 30 meeting of the LCCC Board of Trustees. During that meeting, Rust, Johnson and Hanfelder were seated and Heyen was chosen as their chair. With the voting majority, they voted to rescind all the administrative contracts at the college, which were earlier approved at the April meeting of the LCCC Board of Trustees. They would have expired at the end of June if not renewed.
A statement from the college indicated the posts by Heyen were being investigated by administration.
Lewis and Clark first was notified May 1 of a Facebook profile for “David Heyen,” and subsequent public posts that were labeled as “concerning” by those who brought it to our attention. David Heyen is the new board chairman of Lewis and Clark's elected Board of Trustees, who was seated on Tuesday, April 30. We are looking into this issue just as we would look into any alleged conduct of a student, employee, board member, visitor or contractor. The college has a long history of providing an inclusive environment for all stakeholders of the college, including students, employees and visitors. Lewis and Clark remains committed to modeling our core values of service, respect, responsibility, compassion and integrity.
Calls for Heyen's immediate resignation were also sent forth by the Missouri Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri). The organization is the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group in the United States. They were sent screenshots of Heyen's Facebook posts by Riverbender.com. CAIR-Missouri Executive Director Faizan Syed issued the following statement after being made aware of the postings now accepted as Heyen's.
Anyone who shares such anti-Muslim, racist and anti-immigrant views has no business serving in a leadership position for any educational institution. We urge Lewis and Clark Community College to thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that the college remains a welcoming place for all of its students.
A “Muslim Solidarity Rally” is also being planned prior to and during the May meeting of the LCCC Board of Trustees. St. Louis Muslim organizer, Umama Khenissi, created the event. She described herself as “a progressive Muslim organizer from St. Louis City,” saying she “advocates for the Muslim community across the region.” She created the demonstration following her viewing of Islamaphobic messages shared by Heyen showcased in the release from CAIR-Missouri.
“To show students and employees of Muslim faith they do not stand alone, I will be organizing a solidarity rally in collaboration with Alderman John Collins-Muhammed of the 21st Ward of St. Louis City and Umar Lee community activist, immediately prior to the next Board of Trustees meeting,” she said in a statement. “We will ask David Heyen to kindly resign, but we will also offer him forgiveness. Most importantly, we will spend time with each other in solidarity. Together, we are strong. We hope all people who support the Muslim community will join us.”
Chapman and members of his family connected to LCCC have been targets of several complaints by Heyen, who accuses Dr. Dale Chapman and Linda Chapman of having bloated salaries.
That board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Trimpe ATC at LCCC. It was moved from its usual location in Erickson to accommodate more members of the public expected to attend. Public comment has been moved to the end of the agenda, sources inside LCCC have told Riverbender, but each person who would like to comment will receive three minutes without being interrupted by the board.