UND Student Disputes Claim That He Wasn't Ejected For "Fire Kelley" Banner

In an update to the story I broke over the weekend, the Grand Forks Herald quotes a Ralph Engelstad Arena official as claiming the students with the “Fire Kelley” banner at Saturday’s hockey game weren’t ejected.

“It was a political stunt and they were using the men’s hockey game last night as a forum for their stunt,” REA General Manager Jody Hodgson said. “We don’t think that’s the time or the place for that type of thing.”

“They weren’t ejected from the building,” he continued.

Austin Emineth, who helped organize the deployment of the banner, gives a very different account which wasn’t quoted in the story (he says a Herald reporter left him a voicemail but didn’t answer when he tried to return he calls as of last night after she had already posted her updated story).

Here’s what he sent me, verbatim.

Baylee [Ladner] and I held the sign with approximately 3 minutes remaining, (can you blame us? Of course we wanted to watch the last Sioux game) we held it up for less than one minute. Then we lowered it down, no one asked us to leave then, mostly because it was not brought to the attention of anybody in the arena but the ones above us. With one minute remaining we held up the sign for an extended period of time. Security walked down the aisle took the sign away from us and asked us to wait in the hallway. Security then stated that we are taking you down to the security office. Once in the security office, security took both forms of identification, writing down our names and asking for our phone numbers.

Then asked why we had the sign, as we were explaining Officer Ness entered the office, asking if security jotted our information down. It was then, Officer Ness responded with the words, “You guys are done for the night.” After Officer Ness left the office, we had a casual conversation with the remaining security officers, and had left the building due to Officer Ness’ request.

To be fair, whether or not the students were ejected at the tail end of the game is sort of a moot point. Even if they hadn’t been ejected, they would have been leaving soon anyway.

Still, the security officer telling the kids they were “done for the night” sure sounds like an ejection to me.

On Saturday night, Emineth told me that the security personnel were professionals.  “The security was very respectful, supportive and never harassed us,” he said.

The REA is technically private property, though it exists on campus. And the arena does have policies regarding banners which the Herald article alludes to.

So Emineth and Ladner violated the policies. Their ejection (and I do believe that’s what happened) would no doubt have been in keeping with that policy. But you have to admire their chutzpah. This act of civil disobedience was well worth ejection from the waning minutes of a hockey game, in my mind.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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