Faculty and students at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill say interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and campus police mishandled an incident where Silent Sam protestors brought a gun and other weapons to campus.
On March 16, people who identify as “Confederates,” or pro-monument protestors, had the weapons in plain sight on campus, reports the News Observer.
Although it is a felony to carry a firearm and a misdemeanor to carry a knife or other weapon onto any UNC Campus, no charges were filed.
The school later said that UNC police were confused if they had jurisdiction over the man with the handgun so they asked him to leave instead of arresting him.
Both faculty and student-led groups say campus police have been sympathetic to the Confederates, including those who have threatened violence against student activists on social media.
They say that student protestors who identify as “anti-racist” have been tackled and pepper-sprayed by police for alleged misbehavior during interactions with Confederates on campus.
Confederates and anti-racists have clashed several times since last August, when anti-racists pulled the Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam,” to the ground.
A report released in February by the UNC System described the university officers who were on the campus as “insufficiently trained” in crowd control.
Since the statue’s teardown, the two groups have argued for and against its return to campus.
A faculty-staff group, which tweets under “Unsafe at UNC,” is demanding an anonymous, open letter, that police who were involved during the March 16 incident be “immediately placed on unpaid leave while an independent investigation is conducted into their actions, including analyzing their own relationships to white supremacist organizations.”
A student group called Defend UNC is urging the chancellor to “call for the immediate disarmament or disbandment of UNC Campus Police.”
Both groups have criticized the chancellor’s handling of the incident, after he praised the police saying, “they prevented the situation from escalating.”
“To be clear, weapons, especially guns and the threat they convey even when holstered, have no place here and will not be tolerated,” Guskiewicz said. “In the future, those found with a weapon on campus will be arrested and issued a warning of trespass.”
Guskiewsicz also said he would convene a campus safety commission “to look at all aspects of community safety, including building relationships with campus police.”
He also plans to meet with campus groups to discuss ideas on how to eliminate racism and inequality on campus.
Lastly, Guskiewsicz will be ordering a review of the incident and have a team review “all significant campus police actions and major emergency management and public safety events in the future.”
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