CYPRESS, Calif. (KTLA) — A California professor is on leave after a Zoom video of a heated discussion with a student who called police “heroes” in class recently went viral.
The incident happened during a recorded online session and began after Cypress College student Braden Ellis gave a presentation on cancel culture and police for a class on verbal communications. In the discussion that followed, the professor interrupted him multiple times, not agreeing with his support of law enforcement, according to the video.
A nearly three-minute clip of the exchange — which was widely circulated online and has since garnered national attention — begins after the presentation.
Throughout the discussion, the professor interrupts the student and presses him on various points about policing in America.
“I think cops are heroes and they have to have a difficult job,” Ellis said in the video. “But we have to have …”
At that point, the teacher interrupts, asking, “All of them?”
“I’d say a good majority of them,” he responded, noting that there are “bad people in every business.”
At that point, he’s cut off again by the teacher.
“A lot of police officers have committed an atrocious crime and have gotten away with it and have never been convicted of any of it,” the teacher said.
“This is not popular to say, but I do support our police and we have bad people, and the people that do bad things should be brought to justice. I agree with that,” he responded.
“They haven’t,” the instructor interjects. Ellis said he agreed with her on that point, but then she interrupted him again.
“So what is your bottom line point? You’re saying police officers should be revered, viewed as heroes?” she asked.
“I think they are heroes, in a sense,” he answered.
The conversation continued with the professor, at one point, saying she didn’t trust the police and wouldn’t call them in an emergency situation because, “My life’s more in danger in their presence.”
On Monday, Ellis told NewsNation affiliate KTLA he felt attacked during the exchange.
“I was shocked. I didn’t really expect an answer like that. I was assuming that she would just play devil’s advocate,” he said. “But she put her bias in there, and she gave me what she thought of the police, and it was a little bit sad, to be honest with you.”
The viral footage prompted a response from the nation’s largest police union, National Fraternal Order of Police, over the weekend.
“Too many of America’s universities have become indoctrination farms where critical thinking and ingenuity are stifled by the intolerance of simple minded professors like these who are completely unwilling to accept anything but their own opinion as fact,” read a statement tweeted out by the union on Saturday.
It was a sentiment echoed by Ellis, who expressed concern that conservative students can’t express themselves properly in college.
“We need to have unity back in our country and learn to have civil debates again, left, right and center,” he told KTLA. “We have to be fair and respectful of who’s talking to us, and our authorities and our professors, and we have to be gentle and respectful with our arguments.”
The school has released a statement, which reads in part: “Cypress College takes great pride in fostering a learning environment for students where ideas and opinions are exchanged. … Any efforts to suppress free and respectful expression on our campus will not be tolerated.”
Ellis did not identify the professor so she could have privacy, but KTLA has been told that she is on leave and will not be coming back in the fall. Cypress College is a public community college about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles.