From the State News:
Protesters crash immigration event
By LINDSAY MACHAK and KRIS TURNER
The State News
Criminal justice sophomore Kyle Morris, left, debates with first-year law student Charles Skinner on Thursday night outside the MSU College of Law building. A fire alarm was pulled before Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., was scheduled to speak.
A campus discussion about illegal immigration turned violent Thursday evening, when protesters clashed with the MSU College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom, who sponsored the event.
Kyle Bristow, chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, said he was kicked and spat upon by some of the protesters when he was outside the MSU College of Law, where the discussion was being held.
"It saddens me that my fellow Spartans would display this type of behavior," he said. "They are racist. It's sad we need police to come to control these radical leftists."
Unable to identify the people who assaulted him, Bristow said he wasn't planning to file a police report.
MSU police were dispatched to the event after an employee of the law college called the department, MSU police Sgt. Brian McDaniel said.
"About 10 to 20 protesters disrupted the event," he said. "We believe they were responsible for pulling the fire alarm."
Protesters said they came to show their opposition to controversial Republican congressman Tom Tancredo, of Colorado, who spoke at the event. Before Tancredo arrived and while the event was being set up, protesters gathered on the fourth floor of the law college with signs that read "Ignorant Racist."
Someone in the building set off a fire alarm twice throughout the evening. After the first alarm was pulled, a few hundred people were evacuated from the building. The person or persons responsible for pulling the alarm could face a misdemeanor or felony charge if caught, McDaniel said.
Randy McPherson, whose sign read "Where's the wall to keep you out?" came to protest when he heard that the congressman would be speaking.
"God works in mysterious ways," said McPherson, a food science and premedical junior, after the second fire alarm was pulled. "(Tancredo) shouldn't be here."
Some protesters weren't allowed inside the discussion room because they had signs, which aren't allowed in the law college. The people who attended to oppose the event said they came to represent themselves — not the minority campus groups with which they are affiliated.
Another student who came to protest the event said she wanted to make sure it was known that Tancredo is racist.
"We were here to protest the whole event," said Claudia Gonzalez, an interdisciplinary studies in social science and community relations senior. "It got heated and there was a lot of disagreement and argument. This is a very big issue."
While waiting for the discussion to start, accounting graduate student Matt Ledesma said he witnessed someone being pulled out of the discussion area for spitting on someone.
"They were being disruptive," he said. "Someone pulled the fire alarm, which got us all out here."
After everyone was allowed back into the law college, Tancredo addressed a crowd of more than 40 people, who clapped and booed when he began speaking.
His speech focused on illegal immigration in the United States and emphasized looking at the issue with a clear head.
"Look, you can't get emotional," Tancredo said during his speech. "Let's just talk about the policy."
He also stressed the importance of a single national language, which he believes should be English, but added he supports people who are bilingual.
"I think diversity is a great thing," he said. "But it becomes a negative thing when it's the only thing."
A 10-minute question-and-answer session was held at the end of the event. Students wrote their questions on note cards, and MSU College Republicans chairman Jeff Wiggins asked a few of the questions. Tancredo left shortly after he spoke, ignoring many of the questions.
Wiggins, who helped arrange the event, said he was surprised at the protesters' reaction.
"(Tancredo) was not in the building when this went on," he said. "We were in here setting up. We tried to tell them signs are not allowed in the law college."
Jose Villagran, a interdisciplinary studies in social science senior, asked "Why have you been cited for hiring undocumented workers for personal construction?" His question was not asked by Wiggins, who did not pose controversial questions.