It wasn't protesting students who disrupted U.S. Border Patrol agents on the UA campus, demonstrators argued Wednesday. 

It was the U.S. Border Patrol agents who disrupted the safety of campus March 19 by showing up armed and in uniform.

About 300 students, staff and faculty members marched single file to Old Main at midday Wednesday and delivered letters to University of Arizona President Robert Robbins. Their main messages were that the misdemeanor charges should be dropped against three students who disrupted the agents' visit, and that immigration agents should be barred from campus.

"For me, speaking individually, the Arizona 3 are my heroes," said organizer Sandra Soto, referencing the nickname of the arrested students. "The Arizona 3 attempted to make it safe. The UAPD and Pres. Robbins are making it unsafe."

The protesters gathered at the Main Gate and walked silently to Old Main, where they delivered letters to the president. 

The upheaval is a result of an incident March 19, in which a student shouted "murder patrol" at two Border Patrol agents who were doing a career-day presentation to the criminal justice club at the UA. The noise disrupted the presentation, and protesting students also followed the agents to their vehicle, hurling vulgarities in Spanish at them.

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Three students have been cited by University of Arizona police for interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution. 

Another protest is scheduled Thursday on the UA campus, where the Arizona Board of Regents is scheduled to meet. Robbins has pledged to protect the free-speech rights of all UA students and visitors, and said he will set up a series of "campus conversations" on free speech.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at tsteller@tucson.com or ​520-807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

Columnist

Tim Steller is the Star’s metro columnist. A 20-plus year veteran of reporting and editing, he digs into issues and stories that matter in the Tucson area, reports the results and tells you his opinion on it all.