(un)Occupy Albuquerque protester Brittany Arneson could face a disorderly conduct charge for “mic checking” author and lecturer Nonie Darwish two weeks ago.
During the Feb. 23 event, members of (un)Occupy interrupted the speaker and began chanting, “Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli apartheid and genocide at the hands of the (Israel Defense Forces).”
While about a dozen protesters participated in the mic check, Arneson said she is the only protester who is currently under investigation.
The group claimed the lecture given by Darwish, a pro-Israel ex-Muslim who speaks on the dangers of Sharia law, was anti-Muslim. Supporters of the UNM Israel Alliance rushed toward the protesters and started pushing them toward the exit. Protesters resisted, but were eventually pushed out of the lecture hall.
Rob Burford, student conduct officer from the office of the Dean of Students, will conduct an investigation on behalf of the University to see if the protesters violated the student code of conduct prohibiting disruption of University-sponsored activities.
Burford was unavailable for comment, but Arneson, who is being charged with violating section 2.18 of the Student Code of Conduct, spoke with the Daily Lobo about the investigation.
“I think it’s absurd that, in a university that welcomes community involvement, we face utter discrimination against individuals that work for the betterment of our university as a whole,” she said.
Section 2.18 of the UNM Student Code of Conduct prohibits “Any other acts or omissions which affect adversely University functions or University-sponsored activities, disrupt community living on campus, interfere with the rights of others to the pursuit of their education, or otherwise affect adversely the processes of the University.”
Donald Gluck, president of the UNM Israel Alliance, said the investigation of Arneson is appropriate. No audience members have been charged with any misconduct, despite violent conduct by members of the audience recorded in a video released by (un)Occupy following the lecture, Gluck said.
In the video, a group of protestors, Arneson included, began chanting at the back of the lecture hall while Darwish was in the middle of delivering her talk.
(un)Occupy protester Henry Edwards said they were worried the audience was going to chase them out, because they had done it in the past.
“Saying that we were ‘kicked out’ is a bit of a euphemism,” he said.
Marilu Ugalde, one of the protesters at the Darwish lecture, suffered a concussion as a result of the incident, Edwards said.
In response to the lecture, members of (un)Occupy marched in solidarity with UNM’s Raza Graduate Student Association (RGSA), which protested against the mistreatment of Ugalde.
About 30 people participated in the protest march on Thursday, which began at the Bookstore. Protesters spent the afternoon marching around campus.
Edwards said RGSA decided to get involved in the protest because its members have seen more and more human rights violations occurring on campus.
(un)Occupy members attempted to reoccupy UNM’s Yale Park the day after the lecture, but about a dozen UNM police officers forced the group to move out of the park. Officers denied protestors the ability to protest because they lacked a permit.
After leaving the park peaceably on Feb. 24, some protestors returned to the park on Sunday. Shortly before 3 p.m., four members of the group were arrested. The group has been struggling to protest on campus since September.