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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Report released: UAPD officers failed to get names of ‘Arizona 3’, classes disrupted during March 19 incident

Simon Asher
A UAPD officer patrols campus in their squad car on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

University of Arizona Police Department officers failed to get the names of protesters during the now-infamous altercation between three UA students and Border Patrol agents on March 19, according to the recently released report detailing the interaction.

Instead, UAPD learned the names of the protesters by depending on witnesses and social media searches based on still images captured from one of the demonstrators’ video of the incident.

          RELATED: The saga of the ‘Arizona 3’: The story so far

The case summary report contains notes on interviews with witnesses and the Border Patrol agents involved, some conducted nearly two weeks after the March 19 incident. It also contains details of the investigation into each of the “Arizona 3,” including when they were arrested.

Denisse Moreno Melchor, the student who filmed the encounter, first saw the Border Patrol agents fifteen minutes before the scheduled Criminal Justice Association presentation in Modern Languages Building Room 304, according to the report.

In an interview conducted by UAPD with one of the agents, whose name is redacted, during that initial interaction, Moreno Melchor apparently yelled, “murder patrol get the fuck out of here,” before walking off.

The agents then entered the classroom and began their presentation to the club. Soon after, Moreno Melchor appeared again, this time outside the classroom’s open door, with her phone in hand and filming.

A member of the club then asked Moreno Melchor if she would like to sit in on the presentation. Moreno Melchor informed the student she would continue to protest and did not feel safe in the presence of Border Patrol agents, and she began to chant and yell.

The timeline of occurrences that followed is unclear, with witness and the agent accounts differing on the order of events. According to one witness statement, whose name is redacted, a UA staff member, whose name is also redacted, arrived next. 

Another witness statement said the same staff member identified himself as a part of the Immigrant Student Resource Center and said he there to “protect [Moreno Melchor] and her rights.”

The Daily Wildcat can confirm the staff member present was Matt Matera, coordinator for the ISRC. According to one witness, Matera said he “could not control” how Moreno Melchor was acting.

Soon after Matera arrived, Moreno Melchor was joined by another woman, who also started to chant and yell at the agents. The Daily Wildcat is withholding her and the other member of the “Arizona 3’s” names due to threats they have received against their lives and their avoidance of publicity since the incident.

Right after the arrival of the second protester, according to the report, a UAPD officer arrived on scene wearing a body camera and asked the two women to move out into the hall and out of the classroom’s doorway. 

“I told them there is a better way to get their point across,” the officer is quoted saying in the report.

The two women ignored the officer. Upon being ignored, the officer requested backup and directed dispatch to contact the Dean of Students Office. Soon, he was on the phone with the Dean on Duty, whose name is redacted from the report.

The dean reportedly told the officer to let the protesters know “there is a more educated way to protest,” and instructed officers to close both doors to Room 304. Shortly after this, another UAPD officer arrived on scene.

Eventually the protests became so loud, according to the report, a professor in a nearby classroom, whose name is redacted, came out to tell police his class was being disturbed. 

“In lieu of possibly escalating the incident I asked the Professor if he could move his class to another area,” the report said, citing the officer on scene. “The professor agreed.”

During the ensuing back and forth, three witnesses told UAPD Moreno Melchor made some sort of threatening remark, although none of the accounts share the exact same alleged quote.

In the official synopsis of the incident, Moreno Melchor is quoted saying “Do you want me to be aggressive with you, keep talking to me and I will get hostile.”

Moreno Melchor apparently did not respond when witnesses asked her if she had made a threat, and witnesses began to fear Moreno Melchor could become aggressive, according to the report.

Inside the now-closed room, agents continued their presentation but wrapped up 15 minutes early and headed out of the classroom due to the continued protest outside in the hall, according to both agents’ accounts detailed in the report.

          RELATED: Third student arrested for Border Patrol incident after watching traffic accident

From there, according to one of the agent’s accounts, “5 or 6” protesters followed the agents to their vehicle parked in the Second Street Garage, chanting and yelling at them until they entered the vehicle.

Although not visible in the viral video of the incident available online, according to the official report, one officer “followed [the agents] to the garage and I stayed behind to ensure everyone left peacefully.”

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