Hearing for ASEWU member arrested during November protest takes place Thursday


Mckenzie Ford

Students counter protest during Nov. 7 2019 demonstration. ASEWU Legislative Liaison Maya Caruth was arrested during the protest.

By Randle Kinswa, News Editor

Maya Caruth, the legislative liaison for ASEWU, will face a court hearing on obstruction charges stemming from a student counter protest on campus last fall. The hearing will be at the Cheney Municipal Court Thursday, Feb. 20.

When three religious activists came to protest at EWU on Nov. 7, hundreds of EWU students launched a counter protest. During the protest, Caruth was arrested for obstructing a law enforcement officer. 

The arresting officer, Zebulon Campbell, arrested Caruth for not complying with the “buffer-zone,” which was an area that was separating the two groups. 

According to court records, Caruth stepped over the safety-zone to talk to the protestors, as Campbell commanded her and other students to respect the buffer-zone. 

Campbell said that Caruth was enticing students to disobey officer commands to protect student safety.

Steve Graham, Caruth’s defense attorney disagreed with the arrest. 

“His command for (Caruth) to go over by the (students) was not a lawful request,” Graham said in a recent phone interview. “She was under no legal obligation to follow that command.”

Graham said Caruth was singled out for her arrest. 

“This is a case of selective prosecution,” Graham said. “There were a lot of students walking through the so called “buffer-space”… Maya (Caruth) seems to be arbitrarily singled out… for her arrest.”

Graham said that Caruth’s First Amendment rights were impeded by Campbell. He said that he’s on the side of the students for this case, and the law and the Constitution are on their side. 

Graham said Caruth was neither a protester or a religious agitator. She was just trying to be a middleman. 

Graham also pointed out that  Campbell wasn’t an EWU Police officer, but was a Cheney Police Department officer. He questions how much authority the arresting officer had and how much control he had over the “buffer-zone.” 

Graham said he’s been trying to contact students that were at the protest.

“We’re trying to reach out to the students that were there at the protest who might have video,” Graham said.

Graham asked Cheney Municipal Judge Robert Leland to dismiss this case in January, but Leland declined. 

Brian Moore, the chief justice for ASEWU, said the protest was a signal for some students.

“I think the protest in the fall was a pretty big wake-up call for everybody with just how students felt on certain issues,” Moore said. 

Moore said that ASEWU has a responsibility to be respectful of student beliefs, but also to teach students their rights.