More Signs that Moeser’s Feeling the Pressure

We’ve pulled out some banners that are unfortunately still relevant after three years to this university : “UNC: Clean up your act” and “UNC: Sweatshops and Slavery since 1789”. As you can see above, we duct-taped those banners across the poles on South Building three years ago when fighting in solidarity with UNC housekeepers on a particular campaign for greater voice on the job, despite the fact that they are denied their human right to collectively bargain by a Jim Crow-era statute. No one took down the signs or had the UNC police remove them or requested that we take them down.

Last Thursday during our speakout, we again affixed those signs to the poles. We were told on Friday that affixing signs were in violation of facilities use policy (they really don’t want people to know we’re still here). We complied by taking them down and our lovely outside organizers created a freestanding pole to prop up the signs, which we put up yesterday.

Yesterday, we saw Chancellor Moeser several times that day, and he refused to respond to us except to speak about his orchids to one member of the group. As yall know, we’ve done some redecorating in the lobby, propping up pictures of workers’ struggles for the past 60 years around the room and DSP stickers pretty much everywhere.

Last night, Barack Obama came to the UNC campus for a rally. At 9:47 pm, during his speech, two officers from the UNC police came in and told us that all signs that we had must be taken down, including everything we had propped around the lobby explaining who we are and pictures of workers. All of those have been up since the start of the sit-in, thirteen days ago. We requested to speak to their chief of police to ask why that order had been given, since they don’t have authority to change the orders themselves and the order must come from the Chancellor’s office. They told us that we could not speak to the chief of police because all the rest of the UNC police was tied up in security for the Obama rally.

The UNC police told us that either we could take down the signs or they would forcibly remove them. We tried to get in touch with various UNC administrators who had given us their personal numbers for assistance, and as we were not able to contact anyone, we decided that rather than having the signs ripped down we would take them down for the time being until matters could be clarified. We called the Department of Public Safety and asked to speak with the Chief of Police, who had given the direct order. DPS informed us that at approximately 9:30 pm last night, Chancellor Moeser directly gave an order to the Chief of Police to have our signs taken down. This is after stating repeatedly and publicly that he supports our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly, but apparently not during an Obama rally when other people know we have been in the administration building for 13 days.

This morning, we put the signs and worker exhibit back up. As Chancellor Moeser walked into a meeting in the conference room in the lobby with various other administrators, we asked:

SAW member: Chancellor Moeser, why did you ask the UNC police to take down our signs? Especially since you’ve stated you support our first amendment rights of freedom of speech?

Chancellor Moeser: You didn’t have a permit for the signs.

SAW member: According to the facilities use policy, we don’t need one.

Chancellor Moeser: (walks into meeting, ignores us)

Later, a SAW member explained the facilities use policy to Chancellor Moeser, who said oh, ok as long as you don’t need a permit (we don’t). We inquired as to why he instructed the UNC police to remove our signs. He asked what time the order came down. We told him that we were told by DPS officers that the order came from the Chief of Police, who was directly instructed by the Chancellor himself. Chancellor Moeser stated that after 8 pm he was at the Obama rally and thus could not have called DPS at 9:30 pm instructing them to remove our signs.

So the mystery remains: who impersonated Chancellor Moeser to the Chief of Police of the DPS? We have been trying to get them to talk to us, but haven’t heard back from them yet today.

Stay tuned to see if we can solve the mystery!

______________________________________________

Update:
After a number of phone calls and an extended conversation with the Chief of Police, we discovered that there was not a directive from the Chancellor’s office to take down our signs. The UNC police misunderstood the previous directive of removing the outside signs that were affixed to the building, and didn’t realize we had taken them down and put them back up with freestanding poles. The directive had nothing to do with our inside signs, however, and so someway along the chain of command someone took the opportunity to mess with us. The signs are back up now though.

We were told this morning, however, that as it gets closer to commencement and parents, families, donors, and visitors in general flock to campus and the Old Well and South Building, the administration is going to have problems with our visible presence — namely our signs outside and it looking like a sit-in on the inside. We don’t know exactly when these “problems” will occur or how they will be dealt with, but the administration is definitely concerned about our visibility and how that will look as it gets closer to the announcement of the new Chancellor and commencement ceremonies…

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: