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Charges dropped against UNC professor who protested Silent Sam

Dr. Altha Cravey is asked to leave a September event with UNC Chancellor Carol Folt for holding up a protest sign.

Dr. Altha Cravey, a tenured professor of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill, has never been afraid to take a stand.

A regular at campus protests, Cravey has been thrown out of  University events for holding up protest signs and criticized for helping to disrupt meetings of the UNC Board of Governors to oppose their policies.

Cravey doesn’t spook easily. But but she admits that this week, before her citation for throwing a rock at the controversial “Silent Sam” Confederate statue on the Chapel Hill campus was dismissed — she was was stressed.

“I never threw a rock, there was no evidence that I did and I told them when I was cited that I hadn’t,” Cravey said in an interview Wednesday. “I had been laughing it off until the night before the decision — and then my body let me know how stressed out I was. When they dropped the charges, it was a great relief.”

Cravey said her lawyer, Kellie Mannette, was able to provide photographs that cleared her and the matter was dropped Tuesday morning.

A good thing too, Cravey said, as the provost’s office recently asked for a meeting with her to explain that if convicted she would have to report it to the university within five days or she would be fired.

“I think they were trying to intimidate me,” Cravey said. “I usually don’t have any occasion to meet a provost.”

On December 15 the UNC Board of Governors will have a one-day meeting at which they are expected to pass a new university speech policy. Many students, faculty and staff, including Cravey, say they worry it may be used against peaceful protests and could create a chilling effect on critical speech.

“I think it certainly will be used against us,” Cravey said. “I think a lot of this conversation came out of the reaction to us disrupting the Board of Governors meeting when [UNC President] Margaret Spellings was being pushed into the president’s position.”

Cravey said she won’t stop speaking her mind, but she and others are aware of the potential dangers.

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