U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo
Police used pepper spray and a TASER to disperse individuals protesting a talk by Tom Tancredo on 14 April 2009. Tancredo, a former U.S. congressman from Colorado, was scheduled to discuss his opposition to in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants to the U.S. But when protests erupted, Tancredo left the classroom where he was speaking and his talk was postponed. Police charged one student with disorderly conduct, but a judge later dropped the charge.
From the Daily Tar Heel's front-page story about the protests:
"Tancredo, a former Republican U.S. Representative from Colorado, a former presidential candidate and an outspoken critic of immigration, was brought to UNC by the new student organization Youth for Western Civilization.
"About 150 people gathered in Bingham Hall auditorium, and many more protestors gathered in the hallway after police declared the room full and blocked the doorway.
"'I'm here because I represent UNC-Chapel Hill and I don't support racism or fascism in the institution in which I am an educator,' graduate student Jason Bowers said."
Both Chancellor Holden Thorp and President Erskine Bowles, head of the UNC system, telephoned Tom Tancredo to apologize for his treatment during a visit to campus. Thorp also e-mailed UNC students, faculty, and staff to express his disappointment with the incident and urge them to respect the free speech rights of others. From the letter:
"Carolina's tradition of free speech is a fundamental part of what has made this place special for more than 200 years. Let's recommit ourselves to that ideal."
Tancredo returned to UNC in April 2010. His talk was met with a peaceful walkout by about 100 people.