U-M student body president in court Monday seeking protection order against Asst AG


Staff Reports

Update, 10/4/2010: The hearing on Chris Armstrong’s request for an order of protect from Andrew Shirvell has been rescheduld for October 25. The delay is because all parties in the case weren’t notified in time.

University of Michigan student assembly president Chris Armstrong will face off against Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, in a Washtenaw County courtroom on Monday afternoon. Anderson is seeking an order of protection against Shirvell.

Chris Armstrong

For nearly six months, Shirvell has waged an vicious online campaign against the openly gay student, calling Armstrong a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist and liar.”

Shirvell, an UM alumnus, said he is merely exercising his right to free speech, and characterizes his actions similar to “any other political campaign” — although neither men are running for any office.

“The actions that Mr. Shirvell has taken against me over the past four months have been incredibly distressing .. his actions are concerning and make me feel unsure about my own personal safety,” writes Armstrong, in a 4-page narrative seeking the protection order.

“As a student it has also been incredibly hurtful and distressing to see his actions, since I came to the University of Michigan knowing that it was a safe and encouraging place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, which is something I have always tried to promote in my role on student government.

“His actions have not only threatened that, but have been an outright attack on my ability to live my life open and be honest about who I am.”

[Armstrong’s full narrative here.]

According to narrative, Shirvell originally created a Facebook group targeting Armstrong, but it was taken down for violating Facebook terms. Shirvell then launched the blog “Chris Armstrong Watch” at www.chris-armstrong-watch.blogspot.com. (The originally public blog has since been changed to “invited readers only” access.)

Andrew Shirvell

Armstrong claims that on at least two occasions, Shirvell has shown up outside his home, once at 1:30 a.m. when a college party was breaking up. Armstrong cites other occasions where Shirvell has attended on campus student events to heckle or protest him.

The University has since banned Shirvell from campus, and its president, Mary Sue Coleman, called his behavior reprehensible.

“As a community, we must not and will not accept displays of intolerance,” Coleman said in a statement.

On Friday it was announced Shirvell had taken a paid, personal leave of absence.

Shirvell will be allowed to respond to the allegations before Judge Nancy Francis on Monday before she issues a ruling on the personal protection order. If granted, would bar Shirvell from talking to Armstrong, being in the same area as Armstrong, or sending him e-mails or Facebook messages.

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