Feminist Studies Professor Accused of Assaulting Teenage Prolife Demonstrator

by Jennifer Kabbany - Fix Editor on March 12, 2014

Updated 3/13 to reflect the video of the incident has now been posted online. Scroll down to watch video.

SANTA BARBARA – A department of feminist studies professor has been accused of going berserk after coming across a campus prolife demonstration that used extremely graphic displays, leading a small mob of students to chant “tear down the sign” before grabbing one of the signs, storming off with it, then allegedly engaging in an altercation with a 16-year-old prolife protestor who had followed the educator to retrieve it.

Much of the scuffle was recorded on a smartphone by the 16-year-old, Thrin Short. The yet-to-be-released video is now in the custody of Santa Barbara law enforcement officials, who are investigating the March 4 incident.

The professor at the heart of the controversy is Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor whose area of emphasis is black cultural studies, pornography and sex work, according to her faculty webpage. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday by The College Fix.

The confrontation took place at the coastal, public university’s “free speech” area, a heavily traversed part of the quad.

The roughly 3-feet by 5-feet displays included images of aborted fetuses, as well as diagrams detailing the abortion process and other “educational” information, according to Kristina Garza, a spokeswoman for 16-year-old Thrin. Garza heads up campus outreach for the nonprofit, Riverside-based Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust – a group that had trained the Short sisters and other students on how to conduct campus antiabortion events.UCSBcourtesyphoto

“This is probably the most extreme reaction we have seen in a while,” Garza said Tuesday in an interview with The College Fix, adding most of the time upset students just name call or steal pamphlets. “We want this prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to Garza, when Miller-Young came across the prolife demonstration, the professor started yelling at the protestors, saying abortion is a woman’s right. Then things got uglier, as the scholar allegedly enticed about 15 students to begin shouting “tear down the sign, tear down the sign” at the group, which consisted of 12 young women and one young man, Garza said. Most of the prolife demonstrators attend Thomas Aquinas College, a private, Catholic institution nearby, and none are enrolled at UCSB, she said.

As the prolife demonstrators tried to engage students one-on-one in conversation during a lull in the chanting, that’s when Miller-Young allegedly grabbed one of their signs and stormed off, followed by two UCSB students, Garza said, adding Thrin followed the threesome with her older sister, Joan, in tow and calling 9-1-1.

Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust has detailed the students’ version of events on their website. It states in part what they claim happened next:

The parade weaved through two buildings and entered an elevator in the third. Thrin attempted to get on the elevator with them, but Young blocked the doorway. Thrin stuck her foot in the door, but Young pushed it out with her foot. Tenaciously, Thrin put it back. This happened several times as Thrin pleaded with the students to not get involved. “The police are on their way,” she told them …

Suddenly Young reached out and pushed 16 year old Thrin. “Don’t touch me!” Thrin cried, startled. Young’s long fingernails scratched Thrin’s arm. Young pushed Thrin twice more and each time Thrin kept the door from closing with her arm. Finally, Young got out of the elevator, and tried to pull Thrin away from the elevator door. Thrin held onto the elevator with her other hand, the one holding the camera. Realizing that students were trying to take the camera out of her hand, Thrin let go of the elevator.

The elevator doors closed. Professor Young let go of Thrin, leaving several scratches on her arms, and got on another elevator. Then the police arrived. The police did not seem overly concerned about the incident until they saw the video and realized how violent the professor had been. Police identified the assailant and found the remains of the sign – it had been destroyed. UC Santa Barbara police are completing their report …

When asked why the young prolife protestors didn’t just write the sign off when the professor walked off with it, Garza said they had every right to get back their property, and that it was the professor who acted inappropriately. She added it’s shocking a women’s studies professor would act in such a way to a young girl.demostration2

“This is a very encouraging story of a young person displaying an incredible amount of tact and poise and bravery, not only to remain in the right frame of mind to know what to do in the situation like this, but when the situation turned violent she was able to think clearly, and videotape her actions,” Garza said. “She knew that if she didn’t videotape and follow them … they might never have seen their property again.”

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, which first reported the story, Miller-Young declined to comment and has retained an attorney, who stated on her client’s behalf that “it is a pending matter, so it is not appropriate to comment at this time. … We will let the process take its course. I am confident that it will become clear that the events did not unfold as the anti-choice demonstrators say they did.”

The Santa Barbara Independent also attempted numerous times to obtain a statement from local law enforcement, but they did not return the newspaper’s repeated request for comment.

Garza said her group is eager to publish the video, and will post updates on their website as they become available.

Joan Short, 21, also published her version of events.

“Although we were interrupted, we reached a lot of students,” she stated. “Many of them will not be able to think complacently about abortion ever again. … With babies dying every day, we know that we have to use even our spare time to do something to end abortion. We will continue to bring the truth about abortion to UCSB.”

Several UCSB students posted comments underneath Joan Short’s essay that they are sickened by the visits. An op-ed written by a UCSB student and published two days after the incident in the student newspaper The Daily Nexus stated that “these groups are threatening the well-being of students, yet nothing is being done. We should not feel unsafe on our own campus. These acts of shaming and violence are beyond unacceptable, and in no case have these groups warned the student body before showing such images on campus.”

Garza said the campus is public property, the protestors were in the free-speech zone, and by law they are allowed to demonstrate there.

Watch the video:

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.

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IMAGE: Courtesy photos, reprinted with permission from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust

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