COLLEGE STATION, TX — A Texas A&M associate professor was arrested during a protest and counter-protest over the Lawrence Sullivan "Sully" Ross statue on the Texas A&M University campus Saturday.
Michael Alvard, of College Station, was taken into custody and charged with criminal trespassing. He was released the same day on a $2,000 bond, according to jail records.
According to the Texas A&M Directory, Alvard is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts.
Texas A&M police say Alvard crossed under the marked barrier and entered an "exclusion zone" that police set up to keep the two opposing groups of protesters apart.
Protesters asking for the removal of the statue were on the north side of the zone near the front of the Academic Building, and the counter protesters were to be on the south side of the zone.
Officers say Alvard was repeatedly asked to move back under the barrier tape and to leave the exclusion zone.
Alvard argued that Texas A&M was a public university on public property and he had a right to be in that area, police say.
After asking Alvard to move back again, the professor said he wished to exercise his rights to free speech and wanted to read off a prepared statement using his bullhorn.
Officers say they encouraged the man to make his statement from behind the set barrier and out of the exclusion zone.
After refusing to comply repeatedly, police placed the man in handcuffs with Alvard telling the officer "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Alvard was taken to a temporary booking area at another location on campus and then transported to the Brazos County Jail.
He was released the same day on $2,000 bond.
The Lawrence Sullivan "Sully" Ross statue on the Texas A&M University has created an uproar with petitions and protests for and against the removal of the monument occurring in the last few weeks.
"While Sully made strong contributions to Texas A&M, he served as a Confederate General, saw Blacks as inferior, did not support integration, and was against woman's suffrage. It's long overdue for the statue to be removed," the petition creators for removing the statue said. "The Aggie community needs to be more inclusive."
On his personal Facebook, Alvard posted a statement on the incident saying "I want to remind everyone that Texas A&M University allowed the white supremacist Richard Spencer to spew his hate on campus in 2017 while it prevented me from standing in the center of Academic Plaza to peacefully voice my opinion about Sullivan Ross and the statue. Whose side are they on?"
The statue was seen defaced with graffiti and a wig Early Wednesday morning.