Stand with UNC-Chapel Hill SDS Against Hate and for Immigrant Rights sign now

Stand with UNC-Chapel Hill SDS Against Hate and for Immigrant Rights!

Please sign this petition to show your support for UNC-Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society, and please have your organization send a letter or statement of solidarity to [email protected]

Below is the press release from UNC-Chapel Hill SDS:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


Statement by UNC Students for a Democratic Society on the protest of Tom Tancredo


Press contacts:


Linda Gomaa - (704) 737-2728

Tyler Oakley - (919) 537-8665

Scott Williams - (919) 794-1429

Carlos Montes, Southern California Immigrants Coalition - (213) 712-0370


April 15, 2009


Former congressman Tom Tancredo was invited to speak at UNC on April 14 by Youth for Western Civilization, a newly-formed white supremacist organization on campus. Many student organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society, organized protests and alternative responses to the event. The violence and extreme force used by the campus police against the demonstrators caused an escalation that led to the event being shut down.


Over 200 people, including multiple student and community organizations, used a diversity of tactics to protest Tancredo, who is a symbol of hate, racism, and the scapegoating of immigrants. Some organizations wanted to challenge Tancredo through debate at the event; others, including SDS, marched from the Pit to Bingham Hall to protest outside the event; still others wanted to shut down the event entirely. It is extremely unfortunate that a lack of coordination between the different tactics employed led to the Carolina Hispanic Association and others dissent being silenced.


SDS was part of the march to Bingham Hall. Some members also sat quietly in the audience to challenge Tancredo with questions at the end of the event. We are proud to see that so many people came out to participate in the demonstrations. At the same time, it is regrettable that police violence led to an escalation which prevented many individuals and organizations from expressing their dissent towards Tancredo through speaking at the event.


There have been many accounts of what happened outside; some are based in fact while others are wildly speculative and untrue.


As participants of the outside protest, these are our accounts of what happened:


The march route was planned to start in the Pit, pass through Bingham once, then hold a rally outside.
Police stopped the march in the lobby of Bingham.
A few minutes later, Tancredo entered the building. No one tried to block him, but some protesters were shoved into the wall by Tancredos entourage.
Not long after, two women were dragged out of Bingham 103 by police and thrown to the floor in the lobby. Demonstrators chanted, Shame on you, and attempted to help them up.
Five minutes later and without verbal warning, police started pepper-spraying. Contrary to police reports, the pepper spray was not broadcast into the air; it was sprayed directly at peoples faces.
Officer Twiddy sparked his taser over peoples heads, threatening to tase them.
Another police officer pulled a womans hair.
Protesters were pushed out of the building, after which they continued to rally in front of Bingham for the duration of the protest.
Shortly after protesters were ejected, a window of Bingham 103 was broken.


It is our firm belief that the actions of the Campus Police caused the escalation outside the event. All organizations involved in the protest were non-violent. Rather, it was the violence employed by the Campus Police that created a climate of fear and chaos. The issue is not about a broken window; it is about broken families, deportation and xenophobia.


We would like to clarify that SDS did not participate in the event with the intent to shut it down, but we are not surprised that it happened. Tancredo is a national symbol of hate and racism. Thus, it is no surprise that his attempt to scapegoat immigrants garnered strong opposition. In this time of economic crisis, it is more important than ever to challenge bigoted and racist views. Standing up to his destructive rhetoric has given strength to groups around the country. Immigrants rights organizations nationwide are applauding the protest of Tancredo at UNC. Carlos Montes, with the Southern California Immigrants Coalition, said, I support the students right to protest racist Tom Tancredo. Tancredo has to be confronted and exposed wherever he speaks. The students should be commended for their action.


In response to the police conduct on April 14, we demand an immediate investigation into the actions of the Campus Police, and call for a standing student review board to oversee all police conduct on campus.


We further ask that organizations and individuals who are supportive of the protest that transpired express statements of solidarity with SDS, which is currently being attacked by anti-immigrant, right-wing forces on and off campus.


No human being is illegal. Solidarity with all immigrants!


Students for a Democratic Society

UNC-Chapel Hill

www.chapelhillsds.org

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