By Charles Lam and Courtney Hamilton
It was a chaotic afternoon at UC Irvine yesterday, as a man with a gun was spotted while students protested outside the installation ceremony of the school's new chancellor, Howard Gillman. The sighting happened just a few hours before the first meeting of ASUCI's legislative council since the body passed a bylaw banning the display of any flags in its small shared common space earlier this month, provoking a deluge of hateful comments and threats from conservative America credible enough to cancel two of the legislative council's meetings despite the fact that ASUCI's executive board vetoed the legislation.
Most students first received word of the gun sighting at approximately 2:50 p.m., when UCIPD sent out a campus-wide alert via text and social media.
The alert read:
male with gun near flagpoles, blk, 6ft4, 180lbs, 40-50 yrs, bald, maroon shirt, jeans, going towards Mesa Court. Secure in place. Call 911 if seen.
Campus buildings, including classrooms, the Anthill Pub, and the Barclay Theatre, where Gillman was accepting his position as official chancellor, locked down. The ceremony continued as normal, with Gillman speaking on his goals of increasing enrollment (with an eye turned towards online classes), expanding research funding, and building new buildings to house more teaching spaces and student services. Outside the Barclay, students, many of them members of the campus' Black Student Union, protested against Gillman's installation, citing the re-admittance of Lamba Theta Delta, the Asian fraternity that produced a video featuring blackface two years ago.
About 25 minutes after the initial alert was sent, at about 3:15 p.m., students received a second message lifting the secure in place order.
Subject located, incident under control, no threat to campus. Resume normal activity.
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Despite rumors between student protestors that the gunman was actually a plains-clothed officer watching the protests, UC Irvine told the Daily Pilot that the man had contacted the police after he heard about the message and had proper permits for the gun, though campus policy bans fire arms.
The scare happened just two hours before the ASUCI legislative council was scheduled to take place, the first meeting after two meetings were cancelled due to threats to the campus. This meeting actually happened, attended by a few dozen students and alumni as well as several news crews. During the meeting's public comment session, multiple speakers blasted their new chancellor and UCI administration, taking issue with how Gillman issued a statement two days after the flag-ban story made national headlines to save face for the university, while several students received death threats. These students spoke, ironically, in the same room that just hours before had hosted a reception on Gillman's behalf.