SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 30, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):University of New Mexico

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 30, 2022, New Mexico State Police dressed in riot gear used force to disperse students gathered outside the Student Union Building on the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus. The students were protesting a talk by Charlie Kirk, the CEO of Turning Point USA. Three student demonstrators were detained.

Students gathered at the Student Union Building around 5pm on November 30. New Mexico State Police arrived in riot gear later in the evening, after most had left, in an attempt to disperse the remaining, apparently, peaceful protesters. The police detained three people of color- an activist, a dental hygienist assistant, and a UNM law student, Diego Guerrerortiz. They were charged with disorderly conduct for failing to leave the area and were issued a criminal summons for interfering with officials, a petty misdemeanor that could mean a $500 fine and/or less than 6 months in jail.

Turning Point is a nonprofit group that aims to promote “freedom and limited government”, and has several chapters throughout the US on university campuses.

Scholars at Risk is concerned with the apparent use of force by riot police and arrest of students engaged in an allegedly peaceful protest. While state authorities have the right to implement reasonable laws and regulations to ensure order and protect students and staff, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may result in unnecessary harm. They have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on campus. Universities have an obligation not to interfere with expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly, and should refrain from intimidating actions that may chill the exercise of free expression. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of riot police and detentions to restrict peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

Sources:
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
https://sourcenm.com/2022/12/01/officers-detain-demonstrators-during-protest-on-unm-campus-against-conspiracy-theorist-charlie-kirk/
https://www.kunm.org/kunm-news-update/2022-12-01/thur-biden-pledges-support-money-to-native-americans-feds-sued-over-minnow-more
https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/state-police-detain-3-during-protest-on-unm-campus/

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El 30 de noviembre de 2022, la policía del estado de Nuevo México, ataviada con equipo antidisturbios, hizo uso de la fuerza para dispersar a los estudiantes reunidos frente al edificio de la Unión Estudiantil, en el campus de la Universidad de Nuevo México (UNM). Los estudiantes protestaban contra una charla de Charlie Kirk, director general de Turning Point USA. Tres estudiantes manifestantes fueron detenidos.
Los estudiantes se reunieron en el Edificio de la Unión Estudiantil hacia las 17:00 horas del 30 de noviembre. La policía del estado de Nuevo México llegó con equipos antidisturbios a última hora de la tarde, cuando la mayoría ya se había marchado, en un intento de dispersar a los manifestantes que quedaban, aparentemente pacíficos. La policía detuvo a tres personas de color: un activista, un asistente de higienista dental y un estudiante de Derecho de la UNM, Diego Guerrerortiz. Todos fueron acusados de alteración del orden público por no abandonar la zona y se les expidió una citación penal por interferir con los funcionarios, un delito menor que podría significar una multa de 500 dólares y/o menos de 6 meses de cárcel.
Turning Point es un grupo sin ánimo de lucro cuyo objetivo es promover “la libertad y el gobierno limitado”, y que tiene varias sedes en los campus universitarios de Estados Unidos.

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a member of the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), and partners with CAFA on Americas-focused monitoring activities. Relevant incidents, with factual details translated into Spanish, appear on both SAR and CAFA websites.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) es una institución que integra la Coalición por la Libertad Académica en las Américas (CLAA). SAR trabaja junto con la CLAA en el monitoreo de situaciones en las Américas. Los incidentes relevantes que reportamos, con descripción de hechos detallados en español, aparecen tanto en los portales de SAR como de la CLAA.