YouTube/Andrew Seng
James Olmsted clashes with protesting students at the University of Oregon.

Professor Caught on Video Shoving Student, Arrested

Simon Moya-Smith


A confrontation between University of Oregon adjunct law professor James Olmsted and student activists ended Thursday with Olmsted’s arrest and subsequent removal from the campus, said Julie Brown, director of media relations.

Several students videotaped Olmsted of Eugene, Oregon, as he shoved one student and aggressively took a cell phone from another.

The incident occurred at the Erb Memorial Union, near 13th Avenue and University Street, as members of the group Students Against Imperialism held a political performance by setting up a mock border checkpoint.

After inquiring about the purpose of the performance, Olmsted grew irate and began harassing students.

“Indians keep slaves too. Look at your sophisticated indigenous people—Mayans, Toltecs, Incans—they all kept slaves. They all fucking tortured and sacrificed institutionally... If you want this country back start a fucking war and take it back... Instead of just being pussies and talking, do something," Olmsted said to the students. "To make something happen you need lots of people that are doing action... like when Native Americans took over Alcatraz—very, very brave. This is nice but it's very small."

University police have charged Olmsted, 58, with second-degree theft and two counts of physical harassment. He also was served with a letter forbidding his return to the campus, according to a police statement.

“We were very disappointed with [Mr. Olmsted’s] interaction with our students,” Brown said. “[His] teaching responsibilities have been reassigned to other members of the faculty.”

Brown added that Olmsted is “not teaching now or in the foreseeable future.”

Diana Salazar, a junior who was a part of the mock border checkpoint, said she could tell Olmsted wasn’t there to engage in civil dialogue. Salazar said that after a few minutes she noticed he wasn’t “just your typical person.”

“At first I was surprised when he threw his helmet down,” she said. “That did throw me off.”

Salazar said she was even more surprised when she found out he was an adjunct professor with the university.

“We did not know until the very, very end,” she said. “We were all really shocked, but for me it was very ironic. You’d think that a law instructor would know that you’re not supposed to touch students.”

Olmsted, whose "experience includes representing both major luxury golf and ski resort developers and public interest advocacy groups," according to his profile, is licensed to practice in four states and had previously taught a course in Land Trust and Conservation Easement Law at the University of Oregon.

Olmsted has also authored several academic essays regarding Native American land trust. In 2011, he wrote one titled, "The Invisible Forest: Conservation Easement Databases and the End of the Clandestine Conservation of Natural Lands," published by Duke University, which briefly discussed Native American conservation easements.

Salazar is not surprised that "this kind of hidden racism exists" on campus. She added that the University of Oregon as well as the City of Eugene "has a deep, deep history in racism."

“They want to erase and forget it,” she said. “There have been a lot of people trying to support [Olmsted], which goes to show you how people think of him here.”

She said that she and the Students Against Imperialism will take this opportunity to address the racial tensions she says are rampant at the university.

“There has been a history of cultural incompetency from people here, but it’s been isolated and now getting attention,” she said. “I think that we’re in the position where we can strategically ask, ‘What are the next steps to move forward and have the conversations that need to happen?’”

According to the Daily Emerald, Olmsted’s attorney, Mike Arnold, said taping the confrontation may have violated state law, which says the subjects of audio recordings must be notified. An exception has been made for unconcealed devices in public places, which may be what the many cell phones used to record Olmstead fall under.

Salazar believes the students did exactly what they should have done by filming Olmsted’s tirade.

“I feel like we did the right thing, exposing what he had done, and that it was not acceptable,” she said. “We’re definitely not in a post racial society. All those forms of oppression still exist. It’s still something that is experienced here in campus life.”

Olmsted would not comment on the incident and said all questions should be addressed to his attorney.

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soukous7's picture
Submitted by soukous7 on
Typical response from a person with a sense of entitlement. For someone who is suppose to be educated, he lacks commons sense among other things.

Submitted by SHANNON C DAWSON on
Thiz iz typ of elitest wht upper "class",, Who have all the ansers for everybody else!! He cant even deal with hiz own sexuality,, Obveously a closet case! Any tribe useing this loser for litagation should move on,,he is not lookin out for anybody but the "DOMINET CAULTUR" as he calls him self... Really a sad person and an ugly soul he would force on others.. Nobody invited him to partisapate in the ac

Hesapa Wicasa's picture
Hesapa Wicasa
Submitted by Hesapa Wicasa on
Why do we Native People act suprised when an entitled non- native person behaves this way? Or perhaps we will find in the near future this was staged.

Paul Johnson's picture
Paul Johnson
Submitted by Paul Johnson on
This guy was clearly trying to start a fight so that he could say this was a violent student protest. How much you want to bet his lawyer will say that because the tall guy got between him and the woman and then lightly touched him(in a clearly non aggressive way) that he was attacked and was just defending himself. Cudos to the students for not meeting violence with violence and to the young man who non violently intervened

Yvonne Johnson's picture
Yvonne Johnson
Submitted by Yvonne Johnson on
It is person as this as to why I had to quit school, as it promotes hatred and lets the other children know I was free to be persucuted going to and from school, and while in school. As a child I fought back and won most times as I worked in a family business of logen since I was six. I would be called to the principels office and he would take me back to class and ream me out, telling all it was O.K. to do to me what they wanted too , giving them permisstion to do what they wanted to me. He even stood up in front of a fathers day event where my dad was being given a fathers dad cake, he came onto the stage in front of all the parents and children in attendence tried to smash the cake from my sisters hands as she stood on stage to give a cake to her father, with other teachers as well. He centered out my sister who was 7 at the time. Again in front of every one. Telling the kids and parents alike they too can do to us what ever they wanted. My dad got up and confronted him, his name was Mr. Deniehe in Butte Montana. We had crosses burnt in our basment, and in the park across from our house. We became known as fighters, and protecters of our selves and family members. I finely quit school after a family break down and seperation and I was left alone with out any other family siblings to help protect me. I quit school when I not longer could fight to win young boys who were in some cases already men in body, I could not fend them off, I got tired as they would come at me in pacts of two or more still. This brings back a lot of hurt and pain. I am older now in my 50's yet if it were not for me raising two grandchildren who need me. I would be willing to die or be killed as I would be free. The young must do what they must how they can to achive, just basic freedooms from this sort of thing. Lets see if the law, well do anything, as even the law did not prtect me as a child, being born in the 60's, has anything really changed. Keep up the good fight never give up.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
i always thought university professors with phds were actually smart..what an ignorant jackass.

Marlis Langi's picture
Marlis Langi
Submitted by Marlis Langi on
I cannot believe a grown man and a adjunct "professor" would behave this way. CRAZY WHITE MAN ACTING CRAZY. Hope they put him in the loony bin where he belongs.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
This so called professor definitely has problems. He took this "mock" situation and made it personal. It was obvious that he was attempting to provoke a physical attack from the students. What did he think he was going to do take the "LAW" into his own hands and stop everything. Why did he feel that he had the authority to barge in, start yelling, swearing, and putting his hands on people? Did this professor of law really think that just because of his, so called 'status' as a person from the "dominate culture" that he could put everyone at the scene in their place with aggression? I admire the guy in the blue stocking cap. He stood his ground and did not back away. Several times he put himself between this professor and the young ladies... These are students at a college, they're not in college for nothing. What I mean is they have intelligence. What makes this even better is that they did not even know who this man was/is. HHHMMM... Olmsted made an a** h**e of himself. Small incident or not they are very brave PEOPLE.

James H. Gattis's picture
James H. Gattis
Submitted by James H. Gattis on
If you ever visited Little Big Horn Indian Reservation you'd think America owes these pepole in a big way.

To: James G's picture
To: James G
Submitted by To: James G on
If you mean by "these people" the Indigenious Native American's... Then I think they/we ARE owed alot.

April Featherkile's picture
April Featherkile
Submitted by April Featherkile on
Are you concerned by what he said or how he said it? I find the young lady with the cell phone offensive too. I think you could have had a decent dialog but throwing out swear words (both sides) made the situation worse. Consider for a moment that he has something to offer...age, experience, etc...and listen before getting upset. Listen and just perhaps you might learn from each other.

Tamara Vick's picture
Tamara Vick
Submitted by Tamara Vick on
Do a together breathing-exercise..Hug, tell little jokes, laugh, think about what system set you up...I love you all..