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NMSU student arrested after on-campus protest of NSA

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:42:33 AM CST   Updated On: Jul 21 2014 07:52:40 PM CDT

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports.


A New Mexico State University student claims he was arrested for protesting quietly on campus. The student said it's a violation of his right to free speech.

Alan Dicker, a member of a group he describes as a radical left political group, said he went to the college's job fair to protest the presence of the National Security Agency.

He stood next to the NSA table holding a sign that read, "Work for Big Brother. Apply today."

"They've recently been outed as abusing major civil liberties here and in the rest of the world," Dicker said.

NMSU's freedom of expression policy says students can protest or demonstrate anywhere outdoors on campus that is accessible to the public.

"After citing me, they tried to force me out physically. When I protested that they couldn't do that unless they were arresting me, they arrested me," said Dicker.

University police told Dicker he was interfering with the job fair. When he refused to leave, they arrested him.

"I was thinking the university's going to be really embarrassed by this. Alan's a student here and he's being dragged out saying this is your university. This is what your university allows," said Denali Wilson, another NMSU student who is a member of the political group.

Dicker and a few others went back to the job fair on Wednesday to protest his arrest. They were asked to leave again.

In a video of the confrontation, university police can be heard calmly telling the group, "You are violating university regulations and/or state laws concerning improper occupation of the building or property. If you leave in 10 minutes no further action will be taken."

Dicker said it's a violation of his right to free speech.

Bernadette Montoya, the vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, wrote a statement to ABC-7: "Alan Dicker was given the information about NMSU’s freedom of expression policy and was asked to relocate his protest. He refused to leave the area where he was obstructing students' access to a particular booth at the career fair and told police they would have to arrest him. This morning about seven students protesting in the same location were given the policy and they decided to relocate their protest.

NMSU’s freedom of expression policy provides our students the opportunity to express themselves anywhere outdoors on this campus as long as it does not interfere with or obstruct traffic, block entrances or interfere with classes or the work of our staff.

As far as free speech zones, the same areas apply, except when sound amplification is used. The use of sound amplification is authorized in the open lots to the East of the Pan American Center and Aggie Memorial Stadium, the Corbett Center Outdoor Stage, and the “Aggie Pond” area off Espina Street from 7 a.m. To 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Sound amplification may be allowed at other times and in other locations if coordinated in advance through the Campus Activities Office.

We encourage our students to express themselves. We have a freedom of expression policy, which supports the free exchange of ideas in a way that will not disrupt classes or university-related events.

Students often demonstrate their free speech rights on the NMSU campus, sometimes with protests, posters, chalking or in other ways. However, most students follow the policy, which provides them an opportunity to do so in a way that doesn’t interfere with other students’ rights to participate in a university event."

Dicker claims he was holding his sign quietly to the side of the table, not being loud or disruptive.

"If anyone is disrupting events in Corbett Center at the university, it hasn't been us. It's been the police and it's been the administration through their complete overreaction to these things," he told ABC-7.

Dicker was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer. He said he plans to plead not guilty to all of the charges.


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