On Monday, The Pitt News reported that a University of Pittsburgh student sent threatening messages to a black classmate in a series of Snapchats posted to Twitter.
Ethan J. Kozak, a junior majoring in political science and planning to go to law school, told Mt. Lebanon High School graduate and Pittsburgh native D.J. Matthews, who is black, that he would shoot him “legally … just like George Zimmerman,” and used a series of racist and homophobic epithets:
I thought all this shit was in the past, but it seems like it’s not. We have no more room for racist assholes so if you ain’t got something nice to say don’t say it. Imma need twitter to do its thing cuz I’m not trynna die just to prove a point. pic.twitter.com/dxTQ3YFngY
— Donald (@burntbacon29) June 26, 2019
George Zimmerman is the Florida neighborhood watchman who became infamous for pursuing and shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, and being acquitted of all charges. The case was spurred the original use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media, which has since grown into an internationally recognized movement for racial justice.
Kozak previously interned for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who lost his bid for re-election in the 2018 Democratic wave.
Initially, Kozak denied that the posted Snapchats were his, but has since admitted that he made the racist threats in a moment of anger. He has said that he is on interim suspension from the university and will be meeting with the Office of Student Conduct.
The university has declined to comment on the details of their response, but said they are working with the Pittsburgh Police and urged students, “If you feel that you or someone you know is in danger, we encourage you to contact the appropriate police department.”