New York Daily News

Updated: September 15, 2017, 10:01 PM

  

 

John Jay professor placed on administrative leave for tweeting he’s proud to teach ‘future dead cops’

BY GRAHAM RAYMAN, MOLLY CRANE-NEWMAN, RICH SCHAPIRO

Prof. Michael Isaacson has been criticized for his tweet about police officers.  (FOX NEWS)

A worse-than-nutty professor at a Manhattan college best known for preparing students for careers in law enforcement was placed on administrative leave Friday for tweeting his excitement over the opportunity to teach “future dead cops.”

Michael Isaacson, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, sent the offending tweet on Aug. 23.

“Some of y’all might think it sucks being an anti-fascist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops,” wrote Isaacson, who works in the school’s economics department.

The tweet caught the attention of police union officials after the 29-year-old anti-fascist leader appeared on Fox News Thursday night. Three union bosses and Police Commissioner James O’Neill slammed Isaacson’s tweet.

“As a 2x grad there, I know Michael Isaacson’s reprehensible values don't represent @JohnJayCollege, #NYC, #NYPD or families of murdered cops,” O’Neill tweeted.

School president Karol Mason said the professor’s comments posed a danger to faculty and staff.

“Today, members of the John Jay faculty received threats, and our students expressed concerns for their safety in the classroom,” Mason said. “Out of concern for the safety of our students, faculty and staff, we are immediately placing the adjunct on administrative leave as we continue to review this matter.”

Mason added that Isaacson’s comments suggested that violence against cops is acceptable.

“I want to state clearly that I was shocked by these statements. They are abhorrent,” she said. “This adjunct expressed personal views that are not consistent with our college’s well-known and firm values and principles and my own personal standards and principles. I am appalled that anyone associated with John Jay, with our proud history of supporting law enforcement authorities, would suggest that violence against police is ever acceptable.”

Reached by the Daily News Friday before he was placed on leave, Isaacson brushed aside the brewing controversy over his provocative post.

“Oh, that s---?” he told The News. “Everybody dies.”

Then he tried to explain.

“I don’t have a problem with individual police officers — I mean, I teach them — but I don’t like policing as an institution. Police officers are agents of that institution.”

After he was placed on leave, Isaacson was more contrite.

“My biggest regret is putting my students and the John Jay faculty and staff at risk. That was not a risk that they assumed voluntarily, and that very much contravenes my political convictions,” he told The News. “I deeply apologize to the John Jay community for making them the target of death threats and harassment.”

Then he tried to cover himself in the First Amendment.

“So much for free speech, I guess.”

Police union officials unloaded on Isaacson.

“Michael Isaacson harbors total disdain for the active and future police officers that he teaches at John Jay College,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who also wrote a letter to Mason.

Detectives’ Endowment Association president Michael Palladino offered a similar assessment.

“I don’t know the professor but based on his tweet he strikes me as a man of ignorance and arrogance with hate in his heart,” Palladino said in a statement. “I can’t see him being an asset to a school like John Jay.”

NYPD Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter also took aim at the self-proclaimed cultural anarchist from New Jersey.

“This message is an abdication of the professor’s responsibility as a civilized human being and disgusting coming from a representative of the teaching profession,” Richter said.

Isaacson has gained increasing prominence as a leader of the Antifa movement, which advocates for the use of violence to prevent white supremacists from assembling in public.

An online resume lists Isaacson, who earned a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research, as having lectured at New York University in 2014 and Long Island University in 2015.

Some CUNY students said they were taken aback by his tweet.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch slammed the tweet and called for the professor's immediate firing.  (ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

“It just seemed totally bizarre that a professor would say something of that nature,” said senior Roman Gressier, 23.

In his interview with The News, Isaacson said he actively encourages his students to take a different career path instead of becoming police officers.

“Unfortunately, most of my students don’t have the luxury of a wide variety of career options,” he said. “They are from low-income backgrounds and are mainly people of color. Most of them are just looking to get a job with a salary.”

He added, “For individual cops, it’s a tough job. But at the end of the day, they are agents of a state that is actively trying to criminalize the entire population.”

First Amendment lawyer Jim George said the university might not be able to fire Isaacson based on the tweet alone.

“It shows a lack of judgment, and if he’s teaching, maybe it’s going to hurt his career, but simply saying outrageous things isn’t necessarily enough,” said George, who’s based in Austin.

Isaacson’s remarks drew scorn and death threats on social media.

“Hey Mike, death will be your reward, stupid is your condition,” read one threat Isaacson reposted.

WITH ELIZABETH KEOGH, ROSS KEITH