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Middlebury College promises to investigate protest that turned violent

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There is one thing everyone on the Middlebury College campus is talking about. Hundreds of students showed up last Thursday to protest an appearance by controversial author Charles Murray. The pack of angry demonstrators brought signs opposing Murray's book and calling him a white supremacist.

Middlebury Police stationed officers throughout the crowd.

"While we were there, everything went as anticipated. The students got a little boisterous and did interrupt the person's speech," Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley said.

Professor Allison Stanger volunteered to moderate the event. Even after she and Murray moved to another location, you could still hear the protesters shouting and pulling fire alarms during the live stream.

"I told them to put someone on the fire alarms," Murray said.

Stanger says things got worse as the night went on. She did not respond to our requests for an interview, but on Facebook, she wrote: "We confronted an angry mob as we tried to exit the building... One thug grabbed me by the hair and another shoved me in a different direction... I feared for my life."

The professor says she and the speaker took a decoy route to the Kirk Center. That is where they were supposed to have dinner until they learned the protesters had discovered that location, as well. They decided at that point to-- as Stanger said-- escape and just get out of town.

The college also declined to comment, instead directing us to statements Middlebury President Laurie Patton posted on the school's website in which she says, "I am deeply disappointed by the events" and the college is now in the "process of addressing the deep and troubling divisions that were on display." Patton says peaceful protest is encouraged on campus but violence is not. She promises "an independent investigation... determining a course of action for each individual understood to be involved."

"I saw a lot of people walking around dressed in all black and in masks. And for me, I've never really been exposed to that sort of political vigor necessarily, so I was pretty rattled by that," said Bridget Currier, a freshman.

Stanger alleges her injuries required a trip to the ER, which got us wondering, were any crimes committed?

"We've reached out and said that we would investigate this, if we had something to investigate," Chief Hanley said.

Hanley says despite social media posts, the professor has not filed a complaint so he doesn't know if he's dealing with an intentional assault or just someone who got caught in a crowd.

"We still need witnesses and still need people to talk to us. We need a victim if we are going to look into an assault and we don't have any of that yet," Hanley said.

The event catapulted the college into the national spotlight. Now students tell us they're divided over the fallout.

"Unfortunately, I think it's saying that millennial liberals are incapable of listening to the other side," Currier said.

Others are concerned it's overshadowing initial concerns the school isn't doing enough to make all students feel welcome.

"There are also feelings of disappointment. The sort of narrative of the students is being kind of stifled because it's become so high profile," said Ben Freedman, a sophomore.

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