published Friday, November 15th, 2013

Video of UTC student arrested near evangelist goes viral, sparks controversy

Controversy has arisen over the arrest Thursday afternoon of a 24-year-old student near a female Christian evangelist who's reportedly been haranguing students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

A 3:58-minute video, apparently shot with a cell phone, titled "Police brutality on UTC campus," had close to 2,500 views on Youtube this morning.

UTC Police Sgt. Willie Trueitt arrested Cole Montalvo for disorderly conduct. According to Trueitt's incident report, Montalvo tried to get past a perimeter of cones set up around the evangelist.

"Due to some mishaps of the last visit from the evangelist, a perimeter was set up … to keep students from bothering or getting in the evangelist face/space," Trueitt wrote in the report.

Montalvo was trying to get past the perimeter to speak to the preacher, and also attempted to ride his bike through the perimeter, the report states. Trueitt said he told Montalvo five times to get back before arresting him. Trueitt wrote that he sprayed Montalvo once with mace, but missed his face.

The video shows Trueitt and three other police and campus security officers putting Montalvo face-down on the ground and handcuffing him.

Montalvo wasn't immediately available for comment; the cell phone number listed for him went to voicemail.

Fourth-year UTC student Alyssa Fjeld sent an email to the Times Free Press that said, "They always talk about the same things — how horrible we all are, how we're living in our sins and will go to hell, and general condemnations against people of other races or sexual preferences. They have been handing out hateful religious comics by an artist called Jack Chick.

"It is hate speech that UTC itself is allowing," she wrote. "If someone spoke to our school as a member of any other hate organization I do not think UTC would allow it and I find it incredibly repugnant that they allow these people to come to our campus day after day."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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