UPDATE 3 P.M. — Assistant University Editor Andrew Harrell is live Tweeting the court appearance.
Seven protestors who drew national attention last spring for disrupting conservative speeches on campus are scheduled for trial today in Chapel Hill.
The protestors — only one of whom was a UNC student — ignited discussion on campus about the right to protest, the treatment of the protestors, free speech and academic freedom.
Haley Koch, a UNC senior, is facing charges of disturbing the peace for protesting a speech by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo that took place April 14.
The protest, which police were forced to break up after they say it got out of hand, prevented Tancredo from speaking.
Tancredo, an ardent opponent of illegal immigration, was brought to campus by Youth for Western Civilization, a conservative campus group, to talk on the topic.
The other six protestors in court today face charges of disorderly conduct for disrupting an April 22 speech by Virgil Goode, another former U.S. Representative brought by YWC.
The protestors’ supporters will be back outside the Franklin Street courthouse today with signs and megaphones for a rally at noon. They have argued that the arrests of Koch and the other protestors was unfair.
Koch’s parents, Christopher and Susan Koch, sent a letter Thursday to Chancellor Holden Thorp asking UNC to drop all charges against their daughter.
The letter — more than 1,300 words long — poses questions to Thorp on the nature of Koch’s arrest, asking why she is the only one charged for the April 14 incident, why she was handcuffed on campus after walking out of class and why the arrest was made nine days after the incident.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Randy Young said in June that Koch was the only arrest because she was the only person who had been identified as a wrongdoer by the ongoing investigation.
Rally for protestors
Time: Noon today
Location: Chapel Hill courthouse
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.