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Chris Armstrong, University of Michigan Student Assembly President
by Rebecca Neely
The former assistant attorney general had said he was exercising his First Amendment rights during his personal time. But Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who previously defended Shirvell's free speech rights, said Shirvell was removed because he harassed Armstrong and lied to investigators during the hearings.
Cox cited three visits Shirvell made to the student's home, one at 1:30 am. Shirvell had also followed Armstrong while the student was out with friends in Ann Arbor, and made calls to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, where Armstrong was an intern, in an attempt to have the student fired.
Officials also found that Shirvell had posted attacks against the student on the Internet while he was at work. However, the online posts were not cited for Shirvell's removal from office.
Cox said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press: ''To be clear, I refuse to fire anyone for exercising their First Amendment rights, regardless of how popular or unpopular their positions might be. However, Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed.''
Shirvell's lawyer told the Free Press that the decision to remove the assistant attorney general seemed ''political.'' The former state official still faces the possibility of being unable to practice law in the state as Armstrong has asked the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission to disbar him.
A University of Michigan graduate, Shirvell began a blog in April called ''Chris Armstrong Watch'' in which he called the student a ''radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist, & liar'' and ''Satan's representative on the Student Assembly.''
He warned parents to ''beware: the University's first openly 'gay' student body president.... is actively recruiting your sons and daughters to join the homosexual 'lifestyle.' ''
The blog, which can now only be seen by invited readers, showed photos of Armstrong with swastikas digitally added to his face.
On October 6th, Armstrong spoke publicly for the first time with Anderson Cooper about the blog, and his ordeal. He said he was speaking out because of recent reports of teens who'd committed suicide after being bullied for being gay.
Rutgers University music student Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another student secretly videotaped him having sex with a man inside his dorm room and streamed the encounter online.
Shirvell's removal also comes a little over a week after an Arkansas school official was forced to resign because of national uproar over his emotionally charged comments on Facebook mocking gays and the teens who committed suicide.
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