Nation & World

Facebook hires ex-Johns Hopkins prof who tried to end student protest with bolt cutters

Facebook has snapped up Daniel Povey, the former Johns Hopkins professor who was fired last week for trying to break up a student protest with bolt cutters.

The social media giant confirmed the news to CNBC on Tuesday.


Povey was fired last week, and banned from the Johns Hopkins campus, in relation to a May incident in which he burst into Garland Hall, where servers containing his research are housed, and wielded bolt cutters in an attempt to break up a student protest. Several students had locked down the building to protest both the university’s relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the passage of a state law that would enable Johns Hopkins to form an armed police force on campus.

In reply to the termination letter, which he posted online, Povey wrote a lengthy rebuttal on his personal website alleging that white people, especially males, are discriminated against and noting the minority status of most of the protesters.


“I am leaving to take a private-sector job in Seattle, starting August 19th,” he wrote, explaining his departure two weeks before his firing went into effect with, “I had arranged a backup plan beforehand, so will be leaving a bit earlier.”

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He added a preface on Monday, outlining what he said is a broad cultural issue in Western societies, especially in the U.S.

“White people, and particularly white males, seem to be presented with a choice of either hating themselves, or hating others; and the left is then surprised and outraged when they choose the latter,” he wrote. “I am saying: That’s a false choice. Respect for others doesn’t have to be at the expense of respect for oneself, and demonizing the majority is just as dangerous as demonizing minorities.”

His termination letter outlined the events of May 8, in which Povey brought “a group of non-affiliates to campus” in the middle of the night and forced his way into Garland Hall, where the students were conducting a sit-in.

“By your own admissions, your actions were premeditated, and you expected that your actions could result in a violent confrontation with students and others in or around Garland Hall,” Johns Hopkins faculty vice dean Andrew Douglas wrote in the letter. “In fact, you believed the group of non-affiliates you brought with you could become violent. As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, you created a dangerous situation that could have ended in serious harm to our students, yourself, and others in the community.”

The letter denoted the unacceptability of those actions, and the danger they had posed, and terminated Povey’s employment effective Aug. 31.

Povey had been a research professor at Johns Hopkins since 2012, reported CNBC. He was part of the Baltimore school’s Center for Language and Speech Processing at the Whiting School of Engineering. He also has worked at Microsoft and IBM.

Facebook recently announced a new initiative to create an artificial intelligence voice assistant akin to Alexa from Amazon, based in Redmond, Wash., CNBC said. The social media giant did not return a request for comment from the Daily News.