Steve Taylor, the former adjunct mathematics teacher at St. Louis Community College who was tackled and arrested for trying to speak up at board meeting last fall, was acquitted last week on a charge of peace disturbance.
Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy found Taylor, 53, not guilty of the city ordinance violation.
Taylor, who taught math classes at the college’s Wildwood campus, was tackled and arrested at an Oct. 19 college Board of Trustees after he allegedly “charged” toward the front of the room where board members and the college’s chancellor were seated.
PART OF UNION
Taylor had been a part of the adjunct faculty union’s negotiations with the administration over pay raises and other issues and was one of several faculty members and students who attended the board meeting to urge administrators to negotiate a fair contract with the adjuncts.
The meeting was uneventful as administrators spoke and audience members politely applauded their presentations, but when it was the faculty and students’ turn to speak, the board’s state appointed Vice Chair Rodney Gee admonished students for applauding Sandra Brady, an associate professor at the college and member of the Missouri NEA. Gee told them if they applauded again they would be removed.
That’s when Taylor stood up and spoke, trying to make a point about the board “restricting free speech.”
NEVER CHARGED THE BOARD
Taylor denied he charged the board. He said he stood up to speak and, as he did so, walked to the middle of the room where he was grabbed from behind by someone he couldn’t see and instinctively moved forward. That someone turned out to be Community College Police Officer Robert Caples who then grabbed Taylor from behind and body-slammed him to the concrete floor.
A video released by the college showed the incident transpiring as Taylor described it.
Nevertheless, Taylor was barred from campus and cited for two municipal ordinance violations: peace disturbance and resisting arrest. The city counselor’s office, perhaps after reviewing the tape, decided not to charge Taylor with resisting arrest, and he was found not guilty of peace disturbance.
“There has been a cloud over me, and this was quite a relief,” he said. “I was relieved that the court made the correct and just decision.”
But, Taylor added, “I still miss my colleagues and students.”
LAWSUIT AGAINST COLLEGE
Taylor filed suit against the college and Caples last month, saying they had violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights, and right to due process.
He is also seeking a judgement against Caples for battery, stating he suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion, bruising and other injuries.
The suit seeks a judgement against Gee for slander for telling the audience after Taylor was removed from the meeting the knowingly false and defaming statements “having someone come at me is threatening and traumatizing…. The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to be assaulted or to batter.”
The suit also seeks a libel judgement against Gee and Caples for “falsely and maliciously publishing statements” that he charged the board.