Illinois College Board Chairman Who Shared Racist and Anti-Muslim Facebook Posts Says He Only Wanted to 'Generate Conversation'

A newly seated chairman of an Illinois college board is under investigation after being accused of sharing racist and anti-immigrant Facebook posts.

David Heyen was elected to oversee the Board of Trustees at Lewis and Clark Community College in the village of Godfrey on April 30. But only days prior, based on his own Facebook updates, he had been circulating a number of conspiratorial posts on his account.

One post read, "Wondering why mumps, measles and smallpox are back? Perhaps millions of unvaccinated illegal alien kids in the public schools?" Another said, "Anyone notice that there is no terrorism in Iceland or Japan? Weird coincidence, there are no Muslims there either."

Images of the posts were published online this week after being sent to the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has called for Heyen to resign.

As an alum of @lewisandclarkcc, I'm appalled and demanding better. LCCC should serve all students. How can the Board of Trustees do that if it is led by a man who has publicly shared anti-Muslim commentary and visuals? Shameful. #LCCC4All #ResignDavidHeyen

— Lindsay Pattan (@Lindsay_Pattan) May 9, 2019

"Anyone who shares such anti-Muslim, racist and anti-immigrant views has no business serving in a leadership position for any educational institution. Chairman Heyen should resign from his post," CAIR-Missouri Executive Director Faizan Syed said in a statement.

"We urge Lewis & Clark Community College to thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that the college remains a welcoming place for all of its students," he added.

How can an institution that has so many different backgrounds of students allow someone on the board who OPENLY posts about hate of another group of people be allowed to hold such leadership? Something must be done @lewisandclarkcc #LCCC4ALL #ResignDavidHeyen

— Umi (@Umik90) May 9, 2019

In response to the backlash, Heyen told KSDK that he shared the Facebook posts to "generate conversation" and claimed he was "relatively new to the concept of social media."

"This now being used as a distraction by a small faction of people who are not happy that I have asked tough questions as a trustee and sought to hold the administration accountable and provide more transparency in the spending of our tax dollars," Heyen complained.

Lewis and Clark Community College confirmed that a number of "concerning" posts had been brought to administrators' attention. It said it was now "looking into" the matter.

A statement read: "The college has a history of its commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all stakeholders, including students, employees and visitors. Lewis and Clark remains committed to modeling our core values of service, respect, responsibility, compassion and integrity. These comments and posts do not represent the culture of Lewis and Clark."

A biography on the college website states Heyen was born in Dorchester, Illinois, and previously served as a volunteer chaplain for Alton Memorial Hospital for more than 20 years.

Heyen, who did not directly respond to accusations of racism, appeared to brush off criticism since the posts emerged. He told KSDK: "Some would seek to distract our board from asking tough questions and getting answers the taxpayers deserve. We refuse to be distracted."