Brother Dean Saxton was arrested and booked for one count of assault after kicking Mackenzie Brandt, a freshman criminal justice major, at the Alumni Plaza in front of the Administration building at noon Tuesday, Sept. 20.
He was subsequently issued a one-year exclusionary period banning him from campus, per university policy.
Brandt was on her way home from class when she said she heard Saxton preaching from blocks and blocks away.
“He was saying very vulgar things,” Brandt said. “I had to go past him in order to get home, so I figured I would approach him and say something.”
Saxton was preaching on the hill of the Alumni Plaza close to the Modern Languages building, saying things like, “Gay people are destroying the country, according to Brandt.
He wore a purple shirt with the word “Homo” crossed out in red.
A crowd started to form when classes got out at noon and people began yelling at Saxton as he preached. Brandt walked up to confront him but before she could say anything Saxton stood up and kicked her square in the chest.
“I got the wind knocked out of me, and I couldn’t breathe,” Brandt said. “That’s when the girl who was next to me called the police on him and a few minutes after that is when they came and they arrested him.”
The girl next to her was Marijke Stoll, an archaeology graduate student, who passed Saxton while walking back to her department and decided to stick around.
“I’d never seen him in person before but I recognized him from videos so I knew what his shtick was,” Stoll said.
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Brandt calmly walked up to Saxton with her hands at her sides, Stoll said. But before she could say anything Saxton leaned back and kicked her in the chest.
When it happened, Stoll said the crowd of around 20 students collectively gasped.
“I just approached him, Brandt said. “I didn’t use violence, I didn’t even get to say a word. I was merely just going up to confront him and tell him that what he was saying was absolutely wrong.”
After Saxton kicked her, Brant was in shock.
“I could not breathe or talk because the wind was just knocked out of me,” Brant said. “I had to sit down for a little bit while he continued to yell extremely vulgar things. I just sat there and watched as [the police] put him in handcuffs and that’s when I talked to them.”
Stoll called 911 soon after, around noon, and the University of Arizona Police Department arrived within 5-7 minutes. Because she notified them about the crowd, UAPD dispatched 4-5 officers to interview all the eyewitnesses.
“He definitely did it intentionally—it was not an accident at all,” Stoll said. “He assaulted her.”
Once the cops showed up to arrest Saxton, Stoll said everybody clapped.
Students crowded around the cop cars on the mall at about 12:30 p.m., watching as Saxton was arrested, cuffed, patted down and put in a police car.
“He was given a one-year exclusionary order, which means he is no longer allowed to be on campus for the next year,” said Sgt. Filbert Barrera, UAPD’s public information officer. “If he returns to campus during that time, he is subject to arrest.”
Saxton was taken to Pima County Jail where he was officially charged with a class one misdemeanor for assault. After a pre-trial, he was given a court date for a later time and was released on his own recognizance.
Own recognizance means he did not have to pay the $641 bond, but rather promised in writing that he would appear for all future court dates.
Other conditions for his release are that he is not allowed to return to the incident location nor is he allowed to have any contact with the alleged victim. Brandt was checked by medics after she was kicked.
“Are we really so surprised that someone who is so hateful towards everybody is actually violent?” Said senior Maya Sabbagh. “There has to be some pent up aggression in there. He’s trying to promote such hateful ideas.”
Senior Claire McNary said she thinks it’s a good thing that he got arrested.
“I don’t really like him sitting up here, preaching, telling people you can’t masturbate, you’re going to hell—it’s disruptive to campus life,” McNary said. “It’s just really hateful ... I’m kind of glad, but I don’t know if they can kick him off campus for good.”
Kathy Adams Riester, associate dean of students, said she views campus preachers with mixed feelings.
“I generally—in particular with someone like Dean Saxton—I don’t agree with the messages they are sharing on campus because often those messages are hurtful,” Riester said.
She said these messages are protected by the first amendment, so the university is responsible for not only allowing everyone to have those rights but protecting them on campus at a public university.
“My best hope is that students understand that their right to freedom of speech, as well as everyone else’s and the ability to say and share what you’re thinking is really important,” Riester said. “But it’s also important to practice respect to each other, and violence is never an answer when you disagree with speech. Really the answer is more speech.”
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