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UA student arrested for pie throwing


By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 25, 2004
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Tucson man also arrested for throwing pies at Coulter

A UA student and a 24-year-old Tucson man were arrested on three charges each, including a federal charge, after throwing pies at political speaker Ann Coulter during her speech Thursday night at Centennial Hall.

Coulter, an author and columnist, was interrupted when Phillip Edgar Smith, a 24-year-old political science senior, and William Zachary Wolff came onstage and attempted to hit her with the pies.

Photo
Zachary Wolfe

They have each been charged with assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. They were each also charged with one count of criminal damage, a class 5 felony, after it was discovered they had damaged a muslin scrim used as a stage backdrop. Centennial Hall staff estimated the damage to be about $3,000.

Portions of the pie struck Coulter on her face and on her dress. Coulter made light of the situation, saying to the crowd of 2,500, "From that far away they can't even hit me?"

Photo
Phillip Edgar Smith

Smith and Wolff were detained by audience members and arrested by the University of Arizona Police Department. Smith told police he and Wolff had planned the incident two days before Coulter's speech.

Smith said they had seen all of the police at the event but had decided to go for it anyway. Smith told police they weren't throwing the pies at Coulter, but at her ideas, according to reports.

Police found pieces of paper on Smith and Wolff when they were arrested. The papers had Coulter's name and an explanation of "Al Pieda" on them.

At 11 p.m. Thursday, the Wildcat received an e-mail sent from a computer in the Main Library saying Al Pieda claimed responsibility for the incident, and that the pies were thrown "in the spirit of humor and political satire."

Wolff, who spoke to the Wildcat over the weekend, said this is Al Pieda's first event and described Al Pieda as a loose network of political activists. He said their purpose is to create non-violent political theater and delicious vegan pies.

Wolff would not say how many members are in the group, but said a minority are UA students.

Smith and Wolff were taken to Pima County Jail after the incident and were released Friday morning.

Smith was also referred to the Dean of Students office for violating the school's Code of Conduct.

Students involved in violent activity could face expulsion depending on the incident, said Veda Kowalski, associate dean of students.

UA administration takes action in student cases involving sale or distribution of drugs, gambling and violence that presents a danger to others, Kowalski said. An investigation is done that gives the student the opportunity to address the allegations while the administration interviews witnesses and reviews the case.

Kowalski said disciplinary action could range from a warning to expulsion.

Wolff said he wanted to clarify that he and Smith are not supporters of Kerry, whom he described as the lesser of two evils.

"Our actions Thursday had nothing to do with Coulter's attacks on Kerry, Democrats or liberals," Wolff said.



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