University of Arizona officials have responded favorably to a call by government watchdog Judicial Watch to punish a student who stalked and berated Border Patrol officers invited to campus for a career day.
“University police determined today they will be charging two of the students with interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution, a misdemeanor,” officials announced.
The president of the university, who earlier defended the student’s radical actions, said, “Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.”
Judicial Watch a week ago called on the school to investigate and impose appropriate punishments.
The complaint was delivered to Robert Robbins, the university’s president. It cited published reports of harassment by a student and a statement by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona that claimed the agents’ presence on campus “creates an environment which negatively impacts our DACA and undocumented community.”
“We are requesting a formal investigation of the allegations by you and/or your staff (i.e. Dean of Students) and also an appropriate response, intervention, sanction and/or action if/when the allegations are sustained,” said the letter by Judicial Watch’s Mark Spencer.
The letter explained that Border Patrol Agent Art Del Cueto, the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council and president of the National Border Patrol Local 2544 in Arizona, said that on March 20 two uniformed agents were invited to the school to speak at a career day.
“During the agents’ presentation within a university classroom, Agent Del Cueto stated a University of Arizona student by the name of Denise Mureno-Melchor … interrupted the class and used a cell phone to video record her contact. Moreover, upon their exiting the classroom and leaving the campus, Agent Del Cueto said the invited Border Patrol agents were then followed out by the same student, Denise Mureno-Melchor. She not only videotaped her pursuit of the agents but also, on the campus and in the presence of others, with a loud voice repeatedly shouted at the agents ‘Murder Patrol’ and in Spanish told them to ‘go —- —–.'”
The ASUA letter appeared to support her actions, the letter said.
Judicial Watch called the student group’s actions “alarming” and pointed out that Mureno-Melchor’s actions appeared to conflict not only with the university’s conduct code, but also state law.
The code says disorderly conduct occurs when someone “with the intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person engages” in “seriously disruptive behavior … uses abusive or offensive language … [or] makes any protracted commotion.”
Judicial Watch said that in videos widely circulated online the Mexican-American studies major likens the Border Patrol agents to the notorious hate group Ku Klux Klan and targets the agents by repeatedly chanting “Murder Patrol.”
“In one of the videos the belligerent student follows the agents for nearly a minute as they walk down a hallway and outside the building to the parking garage. She shouts ‘Murder Patrol’ throughout the segment. In another video, recorded on her cell phone, Mureno-Melchor proclaims that there are ‘murderers on campus’ as the camera pans on the two Border Patrol agents.”
“We have the KKK and their supporters here at the U of A,” she says, referring to fellow students in the classroom.
The agents ignored her.
Earlier, Robbins said the school always would protect “students’ confidential information, including their immigration status.”
Later, he apologized to the Border Patrol, sources told Judicial Watch.
Then he got the campus police to do its job, the group said.
“The incident between the protesting students and the Criminal Justice club members was a dramatic departure from our expectations of respectful behavior and support for free speech on this campus,” Robbins writes in an a follow-up announcement posted on UA’s website.