University of Arizona students who heckled Border Patrol agents face charges

Students who disrupted a presentation and shouted “murder patrol” at a pair of Border Patrol agents on the campus of the University of Arizona are facing charges according to a letter published by the school’s president:


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.

University police determined today they will be charging two of the students with interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution, a misdemeanor…

At the core of these inquiries is the University of Arizona’s commitment to free speech. The student club and the CBP officers invited by the students should have been able to hold their meeting without disruption. Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.

The incident in question took place last month. The agents had been invited to speak to the Criminal Justice Association, a campus club, but a female protester spotted the agents through an open door and began loudly disrupting the presentation, comparing the agents to the KKK. When the organizer of the meeting tried to deal with the disruption by inviting the protester inside to listen, the protester continued mocking the agents as the “murder patrol” and said she didn’t feel safe on the campus with them present.

Here’s a video of the incident. The first clip shows what happened in the classroom. The second clip is the same protester, joined by several others, following the two agents out to their car while chanting “murder patrol.”


The person who led the protests told the student paper her name was Denisse:

Denisse, a Mexican-American studies major, organized the protest.

“Yesterday, Border Patrol was invited to campus to recruit at the career fair,” Denisse said. “They were also invited by the criminal justice club. I walked out of class and saw two Border Patrol agents in the hallway in Modern Languages, and I was like, ‘You’re supposed to be at the career fair that ended an hour ago.’ So then I was like, ‘Get out,’ and started chanting, disrupting that space until they left. Literally walked them all the way to their cars until they left.”

You’ll notice that Denisse’s version of events differs from the incident seen in the video clips. For one, she wasn’t just chanting at agents standing in a hallway. She’s interrupting a presentation in a classroom. The woman who attempted to defuse the situation tells the Washington Post that’s where this protest crossed the line:

Luisa Pinto, the president of the Criminal Justice Association, told the paper that the disruption had been a violation of her First Amendment rights.

“Her right to free speech only goes so far,” she said of the woman who was filming. “She has every right to scream and yell all she wants outside the building, but the moment she’s inside a building and interfering with our education . . . our rights were violated.”

Pinto told the Daily Wildcat that she was the woman in the video who had invited Denisse to come in, then called the police after Denisse declined. Her goal had simply been to try to defuse tension, she said. She added that the club is strictly apolitical and invites representatives from different law enforcement agencies to speak to members about career opportunities and their hiring processes.


I’m not in favor of bringing charges against people for speaking up, even when they’re being obnoxious and derogatory as is the case here. However, it seems to me that by bringing her protest into the classroom, Denisse was attempting to no-platform the agents who had been invited to speak by a school club. I’m still not convinced the proper response to that is misdemeanor charges but I do think some kind of discipline is appropriate, at a minimum a remedial course in the First Amendment. The heckler’s veto cannot be allowed to prevail on college campuses.

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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | April 19, 2024