Prosecution Deferred in Protest Cases

UNC senior Haley Koch, charged with disturbing the peace after protesters interrupted a speaker in April, had her court case continued until the fall along with six others, none of whom are enrolled at Carolina, who were protesting a speech eight days later.

Koch, a Morehead-Cain scholar, is the only UNC student charged in two separate protests. She was arrested nine days after protesters shut down a speech on the campus by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration. UNC police used pepper spray and the threat of a Taser to break up the crowd on April 14. Members of Students for a Democratic Society, Carolina Hispanic Association and Feminists Students United staged the protest, which caused Tancredo to leave the building before he had finished.

According to The News & Observer of Raleigh, five of the protesters rejected an offer from the district attorney in Orange County to drop the charges after six months if they agreed to stay off the campus, stayed crime-free, performed community service and paid a $200 fee. All five defendants rejected the offer and will be tried in September. A sixth protester received and rejected a separate offer.

The UNC student group Youth for Western Civilization, a national organization of students who oppose illegal immigration, multiculturalism and affirmative action, brought Tancredo to campus. The silencing of his talk brought an avalanche of free-speech criticism to Chapel Hill.

A week later, six people were arrested on disorderly contact charges for their involvement in disrupting a speech by Virgil Goode, a former U.S. representative from Virginia who is an opponent of affirmative action and was brought by the same student group. Goode spoke to about 150 after protesters were escorted out of the building.

The Morehead-Cain Foundation, which administers the scholarship program, declined comment on Koch, but Koch told The N&O that she understood she would be able to keep her scholarship.

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