More Fallout From the Dustup at a Ward Churchill Class

The October 18 edition of the Message dissects a confrontation at an October 2 class taught by recently fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill involving Heath Urie, a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera. Among the additional developments: an article in the Campus Press, CU's online newspaper, featuring comments from Churchill himself, as well blog entries by a persistent Churchill critic claiming that CU student Josh Dillabaugh, the person wanted for misdemeanor harassment after confronting Urie in the classroom, once threatened to kill him.

The Campus Press offering, "Churchill, Ethnic Studies Instructor Fire Back at Camera," which went live on October 16, features a couple of quotes attributed to Urie, who was prevented from speaking to Westword by his Daily Camera superiors, and Benjamin Whitmer, the aforementioned instructor, who overseas the Try-Works, a web site with a decidedly pro-Churchill slant. However, the most intriguing passages are those that feature Churchill's take on the matter:

Churchill, who was just beginning to lecture at the time, said that when Urie entered the room, Whitmer put a hand up to stop him and Urie ran into Whitmer's hand.

"He was agitated, loud and disruptive, maybe even threatening," Churchill said.

Churchill does not believe that what Whitmer and the other individual did constitutes assault, but he did suggest that Urie's actions could be construed as trespassing and intrusion. He agreed that Urie had the right to ask to be admitted, but believes that Urie had no right to enter the room after being asked to leave.

"I'm here as a volunteer, I have a prerogative to say who I want to talk to," Churchill said.

Churchill stands by his colleague and is prepared to defend him if the issue eventually goes to court. At the beginning of class on Oct. 9, he posed the following question to his students:

"Is anyone here so afraid of the judicial system that they will not be a witness if this case goes to trial?" No one in the classroom said they wouldn't defend Whitmer.

Cyptically, the Campus Press effort doesn't specifically name Dillabaugh, even though his moniker appears in a CU police report -- and Detective Brian Jordan, a representative of the department, is also quoted in the article. But John Martin, the man behind The Drunkablog, is not so reticent. In an entry dated October 17, Martin provides commentary about the October 18 Message, complete with a confession that "Michael Roberts gives me the hives." (My affect on people is usually a lot more severe than that, so he should count himself lucky.) Along the way, Martin makes a reference to "Josh 'I'll Kill You" Dillabaugh," with the middle phrase serving as a link to a July 24 account of a CU Regents meeting. The section pertaining to the death-threat charge reads as follows:

In front of about 30 people, many of them with cameras and tape recorders, former AIM leadership council member Dillabaugh (who said he'd been in jail and didn't care if he had to go back) threatened to kill me. PB and Drunkablog friend Laurie was a witness, as was [CU staffer] Ken Bonetti, who said something like "now, none of that."

Dillabaugh also followed me around while I was taking pictures, saying I'd been harassing his wife and threatening to "kick my ass." He said it roughly half a dozen times, so somebody had to get it on tape. (The first time he threatened me, by the way, some guy came over and stationed himself on my other side, ready to help Dillabaugh out. I was wearing a video camera, a still camera, and a backpack, with two guys just itching to punch me in the head.)

Oh yeah, there was at least one other witness to Dillabaugh's threats:

That's right, law professor and officer of the court Natsu Elaine Taylor "Truthforce" Saito, Churchill's frau. I pointed at her and yelled "an officer of the court, a law professor [see?], and you're just standing there!" She just laughed, then later made sure I saw her giving Dillabaugh a big hug. Scum.

Dillabaugh still hasn't replied to e-mailed interview requests from Westword. But on October 16, Commander Brad Wiesley of CU's police force noted that he had been contacted a second time regarding a misdemeanor harassment warrant in his name, which carries a $100 bond. As of that date, Dillabaugh still hadn't stopped by department HQ to deal with it -- but if he's stopped for a traffic violation or something along those lines, Wiesley said it will pop up.

One more thing: Whitmer e-mailed following the Message's publication to say Dillabaugh had only taken Urie by an arm, as opposed to "arms," as appeared in the original text. He makes this same distinction on a Try-Works effort that features a far different take on the column than the one on The Drunkablog. Its headline? "Hell, Everybody at the Daily Camera's a Flat-Out Liar."

There's no middle ground on this story. -- Michael Roberts