KANSAS CITY — Students from the Concerned Student 1950 group protested outside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Friday night as University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe attended the New Mood Rising Crescendo fundraiser.*

About 50 students from both MU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City showed up to call for Wolfe to leave his position after a month of controversy surrounding his reactions to racial incidents on the MU campus.

A group of about 15 students gathered inside the Kauffman Center at about 8 p.m. before being escorted outside by security personnel.

After that, they momentarily linked arms and blocked the entrance to the center before moving to the sidewalk after they were informed by building security that it was a fire code violation. At one point, protesters made contact with Wolfe outside the center. Missourian photographer Justin L. Stewart observed the interaction, and a 30-second video of it was tweeted by user @Qiana_Jade at 9:32 p.m.

Wolfe: "I will give you an answer, and I'm sure it will be a wrong answer."

Someone in the crowd: "You gonna Google it?"

Wolfe: "I will give you an answer, and I'm sure it will be a wrong answer."

Someone in the crowd: "Tim Wolfe, what do you think systematic oppression is?"

Wolfe: "It's — systematic oppression is because you don't believe that you have the equal opportunity for success — "

At this point, the crowd reacted negatively. Most of what Wolfe said next is inaudible. After a few seconds, he walks away.

Someone in the crowd: "Did you just blame us for systematic oppression, Tim Wolfe? Did you just blame black students —"

Then the video cuts off.

By 11:30 p.m., the video had been retweeted more than 500 times.

Wolfe apologizes Friday

Wolfe said in the statement that he had met Friday with Jonathan Butler, the MU graduate student who on Monday started a hunger strike until either he dies or Wolfe leaves his position.

"I am very concerned about Jonathan’s health," Wolfe said in the statement. "His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening."

Wolfe continued: "I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment."

As of 10:45 p.m. Friday, neither Butler nor representatives with Concerned Student 1950 had responded to the Missourian's requests for comment.

But on Twitter, Butler recirculated a series of tweets Friday night from people who said they were in Kansas City protesting an appearance there by Wolfe.

The hashtag "#WolfeGottaGo" was used in many of Butler's tweets.

Students have stepped up protests in the last week related to the issues of racism and inequalities on campus. 

Wolfe's full statement is below. 

"Today I again had the opportunity to meet with MU graduate student Jonathan Butler who continues a hunger strike protesting the inequalities, inequities, and obstacles faced by students, faculty and staff at the University of Missouri. I am very concerned about Jonathan’s health. His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening. I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance. This afternoon I also met with representatives of several student groups and I value their input and hear their voices.

"Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.

"I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment. Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university – and it does exist. Together we must rise to the challenge of combatting racism, injustice, and intolerance."

Missourian photographer Justin L. Stewart contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Jack Suntrup.

Justin L. Stewart is a photojournalist at the Columbia Missourian.​

  • Missourian Staff: Spring '16 reporter/photojournalist // Fall '15 photojournalist // Summer '15 reporter // Contact me with story ideas, questions or comments at: jlstz8@mail.missouri.edu

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