An English professor at Mesa Community College kicked off the fall semester by showing his classes a YouTube video spreading a far-right conspiracy theory, according to four students.
The 14-minute video shown by adjunct professor Douglas Belmore in at least two classes promoted QAnon, an online community that subscribes to the theory that a cabal of satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles has infiltrated the American government, media, and entertainment industry.
President Donald Trump, according to QAnon, has been secretly working to arrest the perpetrators of the global conspiracy, which involves the Obamas, Bushes, Clintons, Rothschilds, George Soros, the late John McCain, and others. The theory originates from the toxic message board 4chan, where an anonymous user with the pseudonym "Q" has been posting clues related to the conspiracy theory since 2017.
Phoenix New Times spoke with four students who said Belmore showed them the QAnon video. All of them requested anonymity because they are still enrolled in Belmore's class and fear retaliation.
Approached in his classroom after the publication of this story, Belmore said: "I think I only have one response to give you. It’s a question and it’s three words. Who is Q?"
Asked how QAnon is pertinent to his English composition class, Belmore responded, "Who is Q?" He added that he plans to inform campus security that this reporter showed up in his classroom.
One student said Belmore brought up QAnon while discussing the syllabus for his class. Then he showed the video.
"Afterwards, [Belmore] just kept talking about how there are a bunch of criminals and they're going to get caught now that Trump is the president," the student said, adding, "Belmore believes that Q is actually JFK Jr. and he just faked his death."
Another student also said Belmore showed the video in a different class and shared his belief that John F. Kennedy is still alive. "He was just babbling, basically," the first-year student said. "He just brought it up out of nowhere."
A third student said Belmore occasionally brought the class back to English composition, but spent most of the hourlong period talking about QAnon. While discussing the class textbook, the student said, Belmore went on a rant about how media conglomerates are going to collapse. He also brought up porn and Satanists, the latter of which made the student laugh.
"He said, 'I see you laughing and this is not a joke,'" the student added.
Most of the students who spoke with New Times said they aren't bothered by Belmore sharing his views on QAnon.
"It's a chill class because he goes over the quizzes with us," the student who laughed said. "It's weird though, because you have politics being spouted at you for an hour instead of being taught actual English stuff."
Mesa Community College is part of the public Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD). Belmore teaches at the Red Mountain Campus in East Mesa. He makes $27 an hour in his part-time role, according to the Arizona Republic's database of government employee salaries.
"We found out about it this morning and are taking proper actions," said Dawn Zimmer, a spokesperson for the college. "We're contacting our leadership so they can contact him."
Zimmer did not respond to a follow-up question on whether the school's leadership reached Belmore.
Asked whether he has been contacted by the college about his discussion of QAnon, Belmore said, "Who is Q?"
Mesa Community College prohibits faculty from engaging in "political activities during regularly assigned work hours," though it's unclear whether Belmore's discussions of QAnon would violate that policy, which is designed to prevent professors from attempting to influence an election.
It appears that Belmore has also taught English at Paradise Valley Community College and Pima Community College, according to reviews of him on RateMyProfessors.com. Reviews of Belmore date back to 2010 on the Pima Community College page, where he has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.
But students at Mesa Community College have rated Belmore much lower, giving him an average of 1.7 out of 5. The earliest review of Belmore's classes at the Mesa school was published in December 2017.
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"His lectures are 20% actually learning English, 80% conspiracy theories and rants about his right-leaning views," wrote one reviewer. "However, his class is pretty easy. He goes over quizzes in class and gives the answers, and he has only five essays that he lets you write about whatever topic and is an easy grader."
"Professor Belmore's class is the most uncomfortable I have ever felt in school," wrote another. "His class time consists of crazy conspiracy theories, his religious biases, and human trafficking."
A YouTube channel believed to be Douglas Belmore's has uploaded numerous videos. Most of the videos contain a series of QAnon-related memes and music purportedly composed by Belmore himself. In a description for a video titled "Q by doug," he writes that "the music is stuff I recorded on my guitar w/ keys and drum machine."