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5 Arrested, None Students, at Mnuchin UCLA Talk

March 9, 2018
 
 

At least five people were arrested at a talk by Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin last week at the University of California, Los Angeles, though none were students, officials said.

Mnuchin was booed and heckled during his speech, hosted by the Burkle Center for International Relations, as shown in videos circulating on the internet. At times, he appeared agitated by his critics and said at one point, “I’m dealing with students, I forgot.”

Some attendees who disrupted Mnuchin were carried out by armed police. Spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said that five people were arrested and were cited and released. The Los Angeles City Attorney will determine whether to bring charges, he said.

At least some of the protesters appear to be associated with Refuse Fascism, a national anti-Trump organization. On Twitter, the organization posted a video featuring someone claiming to be a UCLA student under the name Tala Deloria who was filmed on the UCLA campus after the Mnuchin talk, challenging him to a debate.

UCLA has no record of a student who goes by that name, Vazquez said, and Refuse Fascism did not respond to request for comment.

A person named Nayely Rolon-Gomez has been misrepresenting herself to the media as a student, spokesman Tod M. Tamberg said. UCLA did not specify whether Tala Deloria and Rolon-Gomez are the same person.

Rolon-Gomez was one of the five arrested at Mnuchin’s event and was banned from the campus for seven days -- violating that order would mean being charged with a misdemeanor. Rolon-Gomez attempted to enter a campus talk by former U.S. Army Private and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning on Tuesday and was arrested again, Tamberg said.

“UCLA acknowledges the right of individuals to protest speech, but also emphasizes that the university will not permit a response or protest that is so disruptive as to effectively silence the invited speaker and prevent him/her from communicating with a willing audience (the so-called ‘heckler’s veto’),” Tamberg wrote in an email. “A pre-event announcement to this effect is read at the beginning of events where we have knowledge of protest activity. When protesters disrupt the event, they receive an additional warning to stop or face removal and possible arrest and/or disciplinary procedures.”

Though footage of the Mnuchin event is widespread, the secretary told UCLA he would not consent to the university publishing an official video on the UCLA website as had initially been intended.

The Treasury Department disputed the notion that Mnuchin was not being transparent in blocking the video’s publication.

“The event was open to the media and a transcript was published,” a Treasury spokeswoman told The New York Times. “He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”

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