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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Outrage at arrest intensifies

Casey Sapio / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Budget protest on mall Thursday, Sep 24.
Casey Sapio
Casey Sapio / Arizona Daily Wildcat Budget protest on mall Thursday, Sep 24.

Students upset by University of Arizona Police Department’s arrest of Jacob Miller, a 24-year-old graduate student who used sidewalk chalk to advertise a protest Thursday, have been speaking out on campus and online. 

On Facebook.com, a group called ‘Support Jacob Miller’ started Friday and had grown to 172 members by press time Sunday. 

The group’s founder, Tom Shea, is a biochemistry junior who decided to start the group after reading about Miller’s arrest in the Arizona Daily Wildcat

Shea, who doesn’t know Miller and couldn’t even find him on Facebook, said, “”I was completely outraged by what I read in the article.””

Shea is trying to organize an online petition and a protest on Miller’s court date.

“”(This arrest) can be compared to being arrested for playing hopscotch or finger-painting …”” he said. “”The entire idea behind chalk as a medium is that it does no damage and is easily removed. It’s not something akin to spray paint or graffiti — it’s quite the opposite.””

On the Daily Wildcat‘s Web site, readers are also talking. Many were upset by the university’s initial claim that it cost $1,000 to clean the chalk from sidewalks and walls. 

UA officials have since backed off their initial estimate.

Chris Kopach, associate director of facilities management said the actual figure is closer to $350.

Kopach said $1,000 was the initial approximate estimate, before he knew the writing was in chalk.

Anne Ranek, a graduate student and member of Arizona for Education, the group that organized Thursday’s protest, said she was excited by the amount of support Miller is getting from undergraduates who probably don’t know him.

Dave Talenfeld, president of the Graduate Professional Student Council, told the Wildcat the arrest was “”very silly.””

Talenfeld said the anonymous faculty member who reported the chalk probably had a problem with the content, not the medium, of the message.

“”I would not be surprised to learn that political considerations were involved,”” he said.

UAPD spokesman Sgt. Juan Alvarez said he hasn’t received any comments about the case and declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Miller, at his lawyer’s request, declined to comment on the matter any further. 

His lawyer, Cornelia Honchar, said she found it surprising that a student would be charged with criminal damage, because the crime “”seems so banal.””

“”He’s also charged with disrupting the operations of a university,”” she said. “”So we’ll see how a campus of 35,000 or 40,000 was interrupted by Jacob Miller drawing something on the student union sidewalk.””

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