While protesting the school’s weapon policy, a University of South Alabama student was cited by campus police for threatening the safety of the campus by having an empty holster.
D.J. Parten, a finance major at the school along with another student were on campus Wednesday promoting a documentary on comedy and social standards called Can We Take a Joke. Parten, a military veteran, is also president of the USA chapter of Students for Concealed Carry and had an empty holster on his side as a protest of the school’s policy against otherwise lawful guns on campus.
That’s where things went wrong.
Two campus police officers approached Parten and his friend, as shown in the video above courtesy of Campus Reform, demanding to know where Parten’s weapon was. Parten explained his firearm was at home and he just had an empty holster, then offered the officers a copy of the Constitution, which they declined.
“Did you get permission to wear it?” asks the officer after being told it was done in protest.
“I don’t need permission to wear it,” Parten replied.
“You need permission from the university,” says the officer, going on to state the school has a no-weapon policy and that they were responding to a complaint.
Parten also had a knife in his pocket, which brought a response from one of the officers.
“You’ve got a knife in your right pocket. I don’t know if you’re ever gonna draw it out. I’m not gonna take it from you, but if you keep being a smart ass, we’re going to figure something out,” says the officer.
In the end, Parten was issued a campus judicial citation for violating two sections of the Student Code of Conduct that cover infractions of school rules and participating in activities that, “threaten the safety of the campus community.”
The student activist was not impressed with how he was treated.
“The officer took up 30 minutes of my time and did not allow my friend and me to move about freely,” Parten told AL.com.
The group has been very active on campus, even holding a “Criminals for Gun Free Zones” protest last fall and delivering 800 signatures to student government asking school administrators to look into changing the current firearms restrictions.
While the original citation issued Wednesday would have required Parten to meet with the Dean of Students, the school has taken another look at the issue after media attention.
“Upon further investigation, it has been determined that the citation should not have been issued and it has been rescinded,” University Director of Communications and Media Relations Bob Lowry said in a statement. “University Police are conducting an internal investigation of the matter.”
The University of South Alabama, in Mobile, has an enrollment of over 16,000.
The officer who cited Parten, identified by the school as David Turppa, has been suspended without pay for five days.