- The Washington Times - Friday, April 17, 2009

DENVER | The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has launched an investigation into a raucous student protest that prevented former Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo from delivering a speech Tuesday night on campus.

University Chancellor Holden Thorp said the internal investigation by the school’s Department of Public Safety could result in criminal charges and that students could face Honor Court proceedings.

Mr. Tancredo, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration, was shouted down almost immediately after entering the Bingham Hall auditorium. Chanting protesters unfurled a banner in front of him reading, “No Dialogue With Hate,” briefly blocking the politician from the audience’s view.

Mr. Tancredo was able to speak for a few minutes, but then a demonstrator outside the room shattered a window, spraying glass toward the audience. Mr. Tancredo eventually was unable to continue.

Police later used pepper spray and a Taser to break up crowds outside the auditorium.

Both Mr. Thorp and UNC System President Erskine Bowles apologized to Mr. Tancredo.

“We expect protests about controversial subjects at Carolina. That’s part of our culture,” said Mr. Thorp. “But we also pride ourselves on being a place where all points of view can be expressed and heard. … That didn’t happen last night.”

Mr. Tancredo said in a telephone interview with The Washington Times that he appreciated the call from the chancellor and president. “They were both very apologetic, very effusive, and I was happy to take their call,” he said.

At the same time, Mr. Tancredo said he told them that students weren’t the only ones involved in the melee and that professors in the room were “egging them on.”

Meanwhile, the UNC chapter of Students for a Democratic Society released a statement saying campus police had overreacted.

Mr. Tancredo, a former Republican candidate for president, said he would welcome another opportunity to speak on campus, but only if invited by university officials. He said Youth for Western Civilization, the UNC student group that had invited him, paid $3,000 for his appearance.

“I’m going to go back only if the institution pays for it and guarantees that we will have a peaceful speech,” said Mr. Tancredo. “I’m not going to charge these students again. This shouldn’t be on their dime.”

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