Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo maintained his reputation as a lightning rod on immigration issues Tuesday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., when a rowdy mob disrupted a speech the Littleton Republican had planned to deliver to students at the University of North Carolina.
Campus police used pepper spray and Tasers to subdue a crowd gathered to protest the former presidential candidate, invited by a self-styled campus “right-wing youth movement” to speak out against legislation that would grant in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants, known as the DREAM Act. But when protesters broke a window, showering glass on a student, officers shut down the event and escorted Tancredo from the room, the Associated Press reports.
“This is the free speech crowd, right?” Tancredo asked while protesters shouted obscenities and two groups of students paraded banners that read “No one Is illegal” and “No dialogue with hate.” In the corridor outside the lecture hall, officers “broadcast” pepper spray and charged up Tasers while hundreds chanted and stomped their feet.
A campus police spokesman said police would investigate the use of force against the crowd but the university chancellor issued a statement defending officers.
Tancredo, who called the DREAM Act the “Nightmare Act” in an interview on Fox News earlier this month, told reporters he hadn’t ever been silenced by protesters before the melee Tuesday night.
“They’re fascists,” Tancredo said shortly before officers brought the event to a halt, according to the North Carolina progressive news site IndyWeek.com. “These kids have been radicalized. That’s what our institutions have created.”
“You believe in white people’s superiority, you fuck!” IndyWeek reports one student shouted while the crowd cheered.
Here’s video of Tancredo’s truncated speech, shot by the head of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, a group that supports Tancredo and opposes the DREAM Act:
A second video, posted by the same group, depicts the scene in the hallway when officers use pepper spray and threaten the crowd with clicking Tasers.
“I think the protest was counterproductive to supposedly promoting a democratic society, and I think it makes Carolina look bad as a liberal university,” senior Pier Duncan told IndyWeek after Tancredo left. “I actually agree with the protesters, but I don’t agree with the way they went about it.”