Students at the University of Michigan are calling on the school to remove a member of its Board of Regents, because he stated that he didn’t know if he believed President Donald Trump could be responsible for the riot on Capitol Hill.
A petition titled “Recall U-M Regent Ron Weiser for Complicity in Capitol Violence” had more than 4,500 signatures as of Thursday.
“The evidence is clear: Ron Weiser is complicit in Wednesday’s historic and horrifying events, and continues to defend their instigators,” reads the petition. “We demand that he either resign or be recalled by the Board of Regents, and we expect President Schlissel to condemn this threat to all students of color on campus.”
The petition claims that Weiser approved of “the consciously destructive actions of President Trump” the day after “white supremacy stormed America’s Capitol.”
The student-authors were incensed by Weiser’s remarks in Bridge Magazine, in which he said “I don’t know,” when asked if he believed Trump was responsible for the Capitol riot.
“Asked if Trump bears blame for Wednesday’s violent mob — Weiser demurred. ‘I don’t know. I didn’t read any of that stuff, and I didn’t watch television. I watched Michigan destroy Minnesota in basketball, and that kind of contest is something that I strongly support,'” the petition reads.
The petition claims that the board member’s answer is “merely a continuation of refusing to condemn Trump’s undisputed endorsement of white supremacist violence.” Weiser, in an attempt to diffuse the situation, wrote a statement on Twitter condemning the violent mob.
“I strongly condemn those people who turned into a mob and breached the capitol after what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Those who broke the law should be held accountable. My heart goes out to the families of those who were unnecessarily harmed,” he said.
“Let me be clear, the events in our nation's Capital this week were both incredibly tragic and wrong. People were misled. And that resulted in death and destruction. That is unacceptable and abhorrent,” Weiser added. “I believe in a Republican Party that shares a belief in our Constitution, where the Rule of Law prevails over the whims or dictates of a man or mob. I think we win the contest of ideas with better arguments, stronger solutions, and real-world policies.”
“We will not succeed with violence,” he added. “We can have different perspectives yet unite for a common cause. We win through addition rather than subtraction. We win by standing for timeless principles, traditions, norms, and values, and we advocate for those values by practicing them.”
“To move forward as a party, we must acknowledge our mistakes and never let them happen again. I promise to do my utmost to bring people together around common-sense solutions and policies that will protect our freedoms and stay within the rule of law,” he said.
Despite Weiser’s clarification, the authors remained unsatisfied, and described his statements as a failure to relent. The petitioners argue that “most political leaders” claim that the plan “had never been to hold a peaceful protest.”
“Simply put, Weiser’s defense of Trump’s actions is a defense of using lies to incite violence and upend American democracy,” the petitioners state. “If his words were not enough, Weiser still proudly displays an image of himself with President Trump as his twitter banner.”
Weiser previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, and is also the incoming chair of the Michigan Republican Party. As of June 2020, he and his wife had committed over $100 million in donations to the University of Michigan.