It is no surprise that radical activists at UNC would feel emboldened after successfully disrupting former representative Tom Tancredo’s speech less than ten days ago. And so Tuesday night they tried to go two for two by shouting down an immigration presentation by former Virginia congressman Virgil Goode. Except this time, the university and police were prepared. From the Daily Tar Heel:
Goode spoke to a Frank Porter Graham Student Union audience of about 150 people and took questions from audience members for about 90 minutes. Some audience members jeered and heckled when the speech started. One small group walked out shortly after it began. Some set off personal body alarms that had to be located and turned off by police. Two others unfurled a banner with a profane statement. Goode continued speaking throughout.
Winston Crisp, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, warned the audience a few minutes into the speech that disruptive behavior would not be tolerated. Officers began taking protesters out one or two at a time during the course of the event as the behavior escalated. Police reported no violence or vandalism.
Chancellor Holden Thorp issued the following statement:
“The speaker tonight was able to express his views and have a give-and-take with his audience. I regret that six protesters had to be arrested, but they gave us no choice. They ignored our warnings, and their disruptive behavior was completely at odds with what we expect at Carolina. I want everyone to know that these six people do not represent what Carolina stands for when it comes to freedom of expression.”
Well done, UNC. UMass (and other schools) need to learn from your example. But arrests are only half the battle. Disruptive protesters are violating the civil rights of speakers and should be prosecuted.