Protests, arrests disrupt UNC Board of Governors meeting

 

CHAPEL HILL – Four were arrested after protests erupted at Tuesday’s UNC Board of Governors meeting.

According to Joni Worthington, the board’s vice president of communication, a group became disruptive, began shouting obscenities and refusing to comply with directives from the board chair and law enforcement.

Worthington added that some became physically confrontational with law enforcement officers. The video above, by Blake Hodge, is provided courtesy of Chapelboro.com.

Madeleine Scanlon, a UNC Chapel Hill student activist, faces charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, disorderly conduct and assault inflicting serious injury of a law enforcement officer. She was released on a $500 bond and is set to appear in court Feb. 4.

Irving David Allen, of Greensboro, was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct.

Olufemi Shittu, a UNC Greensboro student, was arrested on the charge of disorderly conduct.

Jennifer Myers, a UNC Chapel Hill student, was arrested but was not charged after the magistrate found no probable cause.

The protesters were targeting the Board of Governors’ approval of Margaret Spellings, the BOG president-elect, who is expected to take over the role March 1.

Margaret Spellings

Margaret Spellings

Scanlon said she and others will continue to protest at Board of Governors meetings until Spellings is “fired or resigns.” She added “we are never going to accept her.”

“We will continue to shut your meetings down until you listen to the students of the UNC school system instead of making decisions for us that hurting our people on the ground,” Shittu said in a statement.

Shittu stated that the group began chanting and moved to sit in the members’ empty chairs after the Board of Governors members voted unanimously to cut three liberal arts majors from East Carolina University.

Scanlon said there was a discussion of issuing trespassing warnings, but board members told campus police to arrest them.

Shittu stated “All four of us were wrongfully arrested and we find it our right to pressure on those who hold our education in their hands.”

“There was no warning,” Scanlon said of the arrests. “They never said explicitly that we were getting arrested.”

Protests at Board of Governors meetings have been common for the past five years, according to Andrew Payne, who attended a 2012 meeting and was arrested.

Payne was with demonstrators, but said he was not actively protesting. He attended the meeting to pressure Tom Ross, the 2001-2016 UNC System president, to respond to tuition concerns and the UNC Chapel Hill academic scandal.

Payne said although the agenda of the protests may be different, the theme is the lack of leadership in the Board of Governors.

“It is sad that it has gotten to this point,” Payne said. “It is a simple case of leadership.”

The next Board of Governors meeting is set for March 4 at Fayetteville State University.