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UNC-CHAPEL HILL

Students Protest Anti-Immigrant Speaker

Event Gets Shut Down
By Kati Ketz |
April 16, 2009
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Chapel Hill, NC - Over 200 protesters gathered here on April 15 to protest a talk given by the racist former congressman Tom Tancredo. Students, faculty and staff were in the streets and the lobby of the building chanting, “Shut it down - no racists in our town!” Some protesters were inside the room where the talk was being held and challenged Tancredo on his anti-immigration views while holding banners saying “No dialogue with hate,” and “No one is illegal.”

During the protest, the University of North Carolina (UNC) campus police pepper-sprayed individuals without warning and threatened to taser those who did not leave the building immediately. According to a press release by the UNC chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), witnesses also saw campus police throw two women out of the room onto the ground of the lobby and one officer pulling a third woman’s hair when removing the protesters from the building. In response to their conduct, UNC SDS is demanding investigation into the actions of the campus police and is also calling for a standing student review board to oversee all police conduct on campus.

The group who brought Tancredo to speak on campus, Youth for Western Civilization, states that their group exists to “promote the survival of Western Civilization and pride in Western heritage” and calls themselves “the West’s right-wing youth movement.” The Southern Poverty Law Center’s blog has cited that YWC has direct ties to known white nationalist hate organizations. One of YWC’s founders, Marcus Epstein, wrote in an essay, “Diversity can be good in moderation - if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers - as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.”

Tancredo himself has become a symbol of hatred and racism across the nation. Tancredo declares multiculturalism to be a “self-destructive belief” and a “cult” and is notorious for his proposed anti-immigrant legislation. The students and staff at UNC have given strength to progressive groups around the country by standing up to Tancredo. Carlos Montes, with the Southern California Immigration 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.”

Students and activists across the country need to stand up to racism and hate. Groups like Youth for Western Civilization and individuals like Tom Tancredo will continue to spew anti-immigrant and racist slogans unless we organize against them and for immigrants, for national liberation, and for progress.

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