A black professor at a Christian university in Phoenix has been suspended for the rest of the fall semester after he was recorded saying some Black Lives Matter members deserved to be "hung."
Grand Canyon University professor Toby Jennings has apologized for the remarks made during a school-sponsored forum nearly a year ago, but was placed on administrative leave after local NAACP and Black Lives Matter leaders contacted school officials last week, The Arizona Republic reported.
"The University wants to be clear that the professor's rhetoric in no way reflects the heart of this University or its dedicated students, faculty and staff," the school said in a statement. "We have placed this professor on administrative leave until at least the end of the first semester while the University completes its investigation."
Mr. Jennings was speaking during a Sept. 19 "Ministry Forum" when he was asked his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Those who claim to participate in that on one side that are very thoughtful about the matter, they are very gracious and discerning and conversationally, dynamically dialoguing about the issue," he said. "They're wanting to hear what somebody else has to say about it. And then you have people on the opposite extreme of that that frankly should be hung. And yes I just said that on video."
Another black professor sitting to Mr. Jennings' left appeared to nod in agreement.
"They are saying things that are not helpful to any way, shape or form of human dignity or flourishing," Mr. Jennings continued. "That is not helpful to any conversation. That kind of rhetoric is not helpful to any conversation. And that's what I mean by they should be hung."
Leaders of the university's College of Theology addressed the controversial language with Mr. Jennings at the time but did not bring it to the attention of university executives, the school said in its statement.
NAACP and Black Lives Matter leaders recently emailed GCU Provost Hank Radda demanding Mr. Jennings be fired, which led to his suspension, The Arizona Republic reported.
"As we continue our investigation, we will interview students who have attended this professor's classes and students and guests who attended the forum to gain their perspective on this professor and this incident and why it was not brought to the attention of University executives sooner," the school said.
Mr. Jennings issued a public apology last week for his comments, saying he "inexcusably offended many fellow image bearers of God" by using "inappropriate, uncharitable, and incendiary language."
"Having been entrusted with representing such an institution that has a public record of contributing Godward change in individuals and in our community, I deeply and sincerely regret having communicated such ill-motivated rhetoric - particularly in light of our nation's present rhetoric-saturated distress," he said. "While words, once spoken, can never be taken back, my hope is that my sincere apology for my own words can pave a more gracious path toward reconciliation - a reconciliation that is at the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ - humanity's sole hope for rescue from all its evils."