Nonie Darwish Supporter Charged For Role in Scuffle with UNM Lecture
By Olivier Uyttebrouck / Journal Staff Writer on Fri, Jun 8, 2012
Paul Chacho, 64, is scheduled for a hearing July 2 in Bernalillo County Metro Court for allegedly striking or pushing two of the protesters, court records show.
New Mexico Israel Alliance, the group that invited author Nonie Darwish to speak at the UNM campus, has written a letter to UNM regents that contends that UNM police acted unfairly in filing charges against Chacho.
The letter, written by New Mexico Israel Alliance President Lynn Provencio, contends that Chacho was “trying to restore order” so Darwish could continue her speech.
UNM police filed battery charges against Chacho on March 30 after an officer interviewed two protesters who said they were pushed or struck by Chacho at the Feb. 23 event, Bernalillo County Metro Court records show.
The confrontation took place after a group of about 10 protesters interrupted Darwish’s speech by loudly reading a prepared statement as a group in the back of a UNM lecture hall.
Several videos posted on YouTube captured a noisy and sometimes physical confrontation between the protesters and several of the approximately 200 people who attended the lecture.
One video shows several men moving toward the back of the lecture hall followed by shouting and scuffling that ends with protesters being forced from the lecture hall.
UNM police refer to that video in the criminal complaint against Chacho.
One protester told a UNM officer that Chacho struck her several times in the head with his fists. The woman said she “blacked out” after the incident and later was treated at UNM Hospital, according to the criminal complaint.
A second protester alleged that Chacho pushed her several times, the complaint said.
Chacho’s attorney, Jacquelyn Robins of Albuquerque, said Chacho pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges but declined further comment.