Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Egolf: Renew the Permit for Occupy Protesters at UNM

State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe is asking University of New Mexico President David Schmidly to hold off on clearing UNM's campus in Albuquerque.

The university announced a day ago that the school wouldn't renew  (Un)Occuppy Albuquerque's permit, citing safety concerns. The school ordered protesters to leave Yale Park by 10 p.m.

I realize that the presence of the protestors poses serious issues for campus management and securiry, but there are important and compelling First Amendment issues involved that bear serious consideration by you and your staff. As you know, the University occupies a special place in Albuquerque - both literally and figuratively. By forcing the protestors out, you are preventing them from making their views known to a large audience. I also believe that the University - as both a state-funded institution and as a place where debate and the exchange of ideas are encouraged - has a special role to play in the ongoing protests.
Egolf was the only legislator I saw at the Occupy Santa Fe event I covered on Saturday.

This brings back personal memories of my first campus protest nearly 40 years ago at UNM, the last great anti-Vietnam war protest in these parts. Albuquerque Police had declared a midnight curfew and threatened to move in and arrest anyone who defied it. This was 1972, so thousands of protesters gathered at the UNM to defy it.

But shortly before midnight, UNM President Ferrel Heady appeared and told us, "If they're going to arrest you, they'll have to arrest me too."

No police action occurred.

Here's a copy of the letter Egolf sent to the current UNM president.

Egolf Letter to Schmidly