Last Updated on February 17, 2022
Penn State professor Walter Oliver Baker was arrested and charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and simple assault following an altercation with a counter-protester on August 27. The protest in demand of a university vaccine mandate was organized by Coalition For A Just University (CJU), a group that is “committed to working for greater transparency, equity, job security, and safety in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for the meaningful involvement of faculty and other workers in decision-making processes at the university.”
National File previously reported on the altercation in which Penn State Junior Avi Rachlin was assaulted at a protest organized by CJU. The August 27 event was organized in demand of a vaccine mandate for Penn State students, prompting Rachlin to show up and counter protest.
Rachlin, who was carrying a sign, was eventually swarmed by pro-vaccine protestors. One of the protesters struck Rachlin with his shoulder, leaving him with a bloody nose and a trip to the hospital. Police now say that was a Penn State professor.
A rally led by Penn State faculty and students asking for a COVID 19 vaccine mandate turned physical this afternoon at Old Main. A counter protester was present. Words and shoves were exchanged between the two sides.
(Warning: Explicit language) pic.twitter.com/Wz2pwW7l1R
— Centre County Report (@CentreCountyRep) August 27, 2021
Walter Oliver Baker, a Penn State professor, was allegedly behind the assault. He is facing multiple charges following the altercation, including simple assault. Baker is an assistant professor of English and African American studies with a specialization in critical race theory. “Baker’s areas of research include critical ethnic studies, nineteenth-century American literature and culture, critiques of racial capitalism and settler colonialism, and histories of African, Native, Chicanx, and working-class liberation movements,” reads his Penn State bio.
Police say the victim was pulled to the ground by Baker, where he suffered injuries to his face and head. They said the video that circulated on social media was helpful in tracking Baker down. Police also said surveillance video showed the professor walking back to his office following the altercation.
According to university spokesperson Wyatt Dubois, Baker was placed on administrative leave as the investigation unfolds. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for October 13.