1980s UNC Students Protest CIA Recruitment on Campus

In the 1980s, UNC-Chapel Hill students organized to protest on-campus recruiting by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Citing the CIA’s involvement in conflicts in Central America and the Middle East and drawing attention to the agency’s increased role under President Ronald Regan, student protesters objected to the presence of CIA recruiters on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Carolina students led anti-CIA protests as early as 1983, and the movement gained significant momentum when the student-run CIA Action Committee (CIAAC) led several protests between 1987 and 1989. The photos shown in this post are from the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection in Wilson Library.

Timeline of Anti-CIA Protests at UNC-Chapel Hill

October 29 1987: Six members of the CIAAC were arrested during a protest in Hanes Hall. Graham Entwistle, Keith Griffler, Dale McKinley, Joey Templeton, Mary Lisa Pories, and Katherine Taaffe (the only non-student) chained themselves together in order to block the entrance to Hanes Hall where CIA interviews were being held. These activists were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, but the judge in the case did not pursue criminal charges against any of the members. Daily Tar Heel, October 30, 1987.

Students protest in a building lobby. Two students are playing acoustic guitars, others are holding signs. The legible signs say "Criminals In Action" and "Peace with Justice for All."
Student protest in UNC-Chapel Hill Law School lobby, February 23, 1988. Photo by Jim Thornton, Durham Herald Co. Photo collection.

February 24, 1988: Members of the CIAAC went to the University Inn where a CIA recruiter was holding interviews and protested outside his door. The recruiter left Chapel Hill without conducting interviews after CIAAC members followed him down Interstate 40 making sure he did not enter campus. Daily Tar Heel, July 14, 1988.

Photo of a student holding a poster reading "6 Million Dead 1947-1988 / CIA Off Campus" while a man places materials in the trunk of a car.
CIA recruiter Page Moffett prepares to leave Chapel Hill after being confronted by protesters on and off campus. Photo by Jim Thornton, February 24, 1988. Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection in Wilson Library.

April 15, 1988: CIAAC protesters lay on the floor of the Career Planning and Placement Services work area in Hanes Hall. During the protest, CIAAC members sang protest songs and held hands. After refusing to leave the area, eight students were carried out of the building and arrested for trespassing. During this event, senior Graham Entwistle, junior Lisa House, junior Jerry Jones, junior Kasey Jones, graduate student Dale McKinley, evening college student Steve Sullivan, sophomore Joey Templeton, and senior Amy Thompson were arrested. This protest was intentionally held at the Career Planning office due to the office’s role in connecting CIA members with UNC students to discuss possible careers. Daily Tar Heel, April 18, 1988.

October 28, 1988: Members of another activist group, the Chapel Hill Coalition for the Freedom to Dissent (CFD), confronted the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees regarding their choice to stay silent regarding the case of Dale McKinley (his arrest and jail sentence). During this meeting, Ken Sandler, a graduate student and CFD member, read a letter condemning the Board of Trustees and their alleged attempts to stifle freedom of expression on campus. At this time, McKinley was serving a 21-day sentence in Orange County Jail for his actions on campus. Daily Tar Heel, October 31, 1988.

November 2, 1988: Following a rally in the Pit, around 20 students took part in another demonstration outside Hanes Hall, staging what they called the “CIA Café.” Students acting as waiters carried plates containing plastic limbs and other symbols of violence to illustrate their accusations against the CIA. As people walked by, the waiters offered the plates, asking, “Did you order the CIA atrocities?” Daily Tar Heel, November 3, 1988.

November 6, 1989: The CIAAC created a “symbolic graveyard” on Polk Place in front of South Building. This was accompanied by a mock funeral procession. The protesters carried their symbolic coffins inside the building and left them at Chancellor Paul Hardin’s desk. Hardin was not present for the protest. Daily Tar Heel, November 7, 1989.

A student hammering a wooden cross in a grassy area of campus.
UNC student Graham Entwistle placing crosses in front of South Building as part of a protest against CIA recruiting on campus, November 6, 1989. Photo by Dan Charlson, Durham Herald Co. Photo Collection.
Students march to Hanes Hall holding a sign stating, "Non-Disruptive Peaceful Protest"
Students march to Hanes Hall to protest CIA presence on campus, November 1988. Photo by Chuck Liddy, Durham Herald-Sun photo collection.
Ten students hold posters against the CIA's presence on campus in front of Hanes Hall
Student protest at Hanes Hall, November 1988. Photo by Chuck Liddy, Durham Herald-Sun photo collection.

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