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UNC-Chapel Hill

Protests planned for racist anti-immigrant politician Tom Tancredo

By Kosta Harlan |
April 23, 2010
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Chapel Hill, NC - At a press conference here on April 21, students expressed their outrage that the racist ex-congressperson, Tom Tancredo, has been invited to return to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus for a speaking event on April 26, hosted by a right-wing youth organization.

"Tom Tancredo is not welcome on our campus," said Ana Maria Reichenbach, a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), at the press conference. SDS, Feminist Students United and other campus and community groups are working together to mobilize students and community members to greet the racist Tancredo with protests when he comes to campus on April 26.

Tom Tancredo was invited to speak at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) by the white supremacist organization, Youth for Western Civilization (YWC). 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 website has cited that YWC has direct ties to known white nationalist hate organizations. Tancredo also has close ties to the right-wing paramilitary Minutemen organization, which has assaulted and killed immigrants in the U.S.

Last year, YWC invited Tom Tancredo to UNC to speak against immigrants, but his speaking event was shut down by energetic, militant protests of hundreds of students, immigrant rights activists, and community members. The students marched to where Tancredo was set to speak, 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.”

Campus police responded by attacking students with pepper spray, threatening them with taser guns and arresting a student one week after the demonstration took place (charges were later dropped).

The protest that successfully shut down Tancredo made national headlines - the Chancellor and the chair of the board of trustees scrambled to apologize to Tancredo. A wave of repression swept the activist community at UNC and the leaders of the protest came under intense pressure by right-wing forces on and off UNC's campus. However, immigrant rights activists across the country stood in solidarity with the student protesters and defended their actions.

Carlos Montes, an organizer from the Los Angeles-based Latinos Against War, and member of the Southern California Immigration Coalition, wrote to the protestors, “Students and young people in the U.S. have historically been in the forefront of the civil rights and peace movements, and we are inspired that you are setting the example by standing in solidarity with the immigrant rights movement."

Despite Tancredo's well-known racist views, the university administrations are defending Tancredo's scheduled appearance at UNC under the guise of ‘freedom of speech.’ But as a statement from SDS at UNC-Chapel Hill makes clear: "[People] like Tancredo do not speak in a vacuum; they support and mobilize racist and unjust actions against groups they oppose.” The statement continues, “We refuse to be silent or participate in meaningless dialogues while right-wing leaders sweep through our country and attempt to steal our human rights."

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