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Valley News – UNH faculty and students call on university police chief to resign following his alleged attack on a student

Valley News – UNH faculty and students call on university police chief to resign following his alleged attack on a student

Five days after police arrested 12 pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of New Hampshire, students and faculty called for the resignation of university police chief Paul Dean after they said he assaulted a student while responding to the protest last week.

The calls came during a demonstration Monday afternoon at the flagpole outside the university’s Thompson Hall, attended by about 150 students, faculty and community members.

Those present, including professors, say Dean – dressed in civilian clothes – charged at protesters last Wednesday evening and tore a piece of white cloth from someone.

Dean did not respond to requests for comment, though he previously told the Boston Globe that protesters were violent and police were attacked, and denied personally attacking students.

“I think an investigation and the information out there will show that this is not true,” Dean told the Globe.

It was unclear whether an investigation had been launched and which entity would be leading it.

“I am not aware of any investigation,” university spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga said Monday.

UNH women’s and gender studies professor Siobhan Senior witnessed the interaction between Dean and protesters on Wednesday and described Dean as “triggered” by the sight of tents — some of which were in the works.

“He forcibly pushed away two protesters and grabbed one of the tents,” Senior said. “He was there alone.”

Both senior and professor emeritus Joshua Meyrowitz have worked at UNH for decades and described Dean’s response as uncharacteristic.

“There was something very strange that day,” Meyrowitz said. “It was like a bull attacking red dust.”

Normally he is “a great diplomat,” Senior added.

A group of teachers who met Monday afternoon also called on Dean to resign.

Later Wednesday, after Dean’s skirmish with students, state and university police dressed in riot gear pushed and punched a group of protesters holding a sign, video shows.

“I find it horrifying to see the government calling the police and asking them to participate in police brutality,” said Yussra Ebrahim, 30, a UNH alumnus and Portsmouth resident whose mother was arrested last week.

In response to a question about the police response and calls for Dean’s resignation, deLuzuriaga described the protest Monday as “passionate, provocative and peaceful.”

“It is my responsibility to ensure that all students are safe and have access to a full educational experience. We will not allow our campus to be co-opted by a small group of protesters, including those from outside the university community whose agenda is contrary to student success and well-being,” UNH President James W. Dean Jr. wrote. in a message. to the community last week.

Monday’s protest was noticeably devoid of any police presence, aside from a line of about four police cars that drove down Main Street halfway through the event.

In addition to criticizing the police response last week, protesters continued to call on the university to disclose its investments and divest companies in Israel.

“Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” demonstrators chanted at one point.

Meanwhile, a group of about 10 counterprotesters — many of whom are members of the university’s student group College Republicans — waved large American flags and occasionally started chants of “USA! UNITED STATES!”

“If people were violent and set up an encampment, then it was the right decision” to arrest them, junior Sara Mazzella said of last week’s response.

Protesters and counter-protesters had some verbal back-and-forth but did not become violent with each other.