Man who interrupted speech by Ayers won't be charged
URBANA — The Champaign County state’s attorney has decided not to charge a Dewey man in connection with his disruption of an activist’s speech on the University of Illinois campus last week.
“I am simply not interested in giving Mr. Thompson or Mr. Ayers any more of a platform than they’ve already had here,” said State’s Attorney Julia Rietz.
Mark Thompson, 50, was arrested Thursday night by UI police for resisting arrest after he disrupted a speech by UI-Chicago professor Bill Ayers at Allen Hall in Urbana.
Ayers was a guest speaker in residence at Allen all last week, his trip having been paid for by students who live there.
On Thursday, Thompson showed up for the fourth night in a row to hear what Ayers had to say and to confront the former Weather Underground member and anti-Vietnam war activist. Thompson had been warned earlier in the week that his questions were to come after those from the students who had paid for Ayers’ visit.
UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said Thursday evening that Thompson tried to give Ayers a Bible and a copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” In response, Ayers retreated from the stage and police moved in to arrest Thompson.
“Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to watch the exchange on You Tube afterwards,” said Rietz. “I thought Mr. Thompson was obnoxious and the UI police were appropriate in their response but it was clear that the crowd was not impressed by Mr. Thompson so I don’t think he accomplished anything.
“I could charge him with disorderly conduct but that would require us to bring Mr. Ayers back for a trial and I don’t think it is worth it. It would be a circus for a Class B misdemeanor,” she said.
UI police had given Thompson a notice to appear in court on the charge this week.