‘Arizona 3’ may avoid prosecution after March encounter with Border Patrol agents

The University of Arizona students labeled the “Arizona 3,” after an incident involving chants directed at Border Patrol agents during a March campus meeting, have been offered a diversion program instead of prosecution, according to the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

On March 19, students with the Criminal Justice Club were meeting with two Border Patrol agents in the Modern Languages Building for an instructional course about their jobs.

According to a 30-page UA police report, 27-year-old Marianna Ariel Coles-Curtis, 22-year-old Mariel Bustamante and 20-year-old Denisse Moreno disrupted the club’s meeting and two other classrooms with their chants, including “murder patrol” and that agents were an “extension of the KKK.”

Police filed misdemeanor charges against the three, alleging interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution, about two weeks after the incident.

Now, the three women will have the opportunity to have the charges dismissed, said Thomas Weaver, chief criminal deputy for the County Attorney’s Office.

According to Weaver, the women can admit to the conduct, abide by the UA diversion program and, if successful, the case will be dismissed. The eligibility is determined on a “case by case basis,” and the most common cases deal with alcohol consumption, Weaver said.

The sanctions may include community service and a payment of $110. If the women fail to complete it, the prosecutions will resume, according to the UA website.

The police report gave the following account:

Moreno started the chants while standing halfway in the doorway of a classroom. She was recording her actions standing about 20 feet away from the border agents. The two agents ignored the chants.

When Moreno was approached by a man inviting her to sit in on the meeting, she replied that she didn’t feel safe while the Border Patrol was there and began chanting louder.

Bustamante showed up and joined Moreno. A UA police officer with a body camera arrived and told the pair to step back.

The officer was ignored, and Coles-Curtis arrived soon after. Officers shut both doors, but the chants continued.

The chanting caused an instructor from a nearby class to move it outside on the mall, the report said.

After cutting the meeting short, the agents were followed to their vehicle by the three women, who continued chanting obscenities, the report said. But one of the agents “did not recall hearing any direct threats,” according to the report.

One student in the club later reported to police they felt threatened by what Moreno was saying.

Police tracked the three women down in part by reviewing video posted online and other social media posts, and through a news release issued about the incident by Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a conservative, nonpartisan educational foundation.

Moreno was also cited on misdemeanor charges of threats and intimidation.

In video posted by Moreno, which was reviewed by UA police, she claimed she wanted “the class to be more conscious of others on campus who do not feel safe,” the report said.

Supporters of the protesters dubbed them “the Arizona 3” after the video went viral.

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