Protester arrested at Wake school board meeting has faced similar charges before

Posted March 24, 2010 10:23 p.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2010 11:17 p.m. EDT

— One of three protesters arrested at Tuesday’s Wake County Board of Education meeting was found guilty of the same offense several years ago.

Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 29, of Raleigh, was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing Tuesday, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

Court records show Strobino was found guilty of the same in Johnston County in 2005.

Some of the high school students who attended Tuesday's protest said Strobino helped to organize the demonstration.

Strobino is linked online to the Raleigh chapter of FIST, which stands for Fight Imperialism – Stand Together. The group describes itself as young activists committed to fighting issues like racism, sexism and the exploitation of the working class.

Several postings on the Raleigh FIST Web site are attributed to a man named "Dante Strobino."

In a YouTube video, Strobino can be seen addressing worker's rights issues.

Strobino declined to comment when contacted by WRAL News Wednesday.

Peace College political science professor David McLennan said protest groups like FIST can sometimes hurt the effort they are trying to help.

"Sometimes their methods can undercut the cause," McLennan said. "They ratchet up the noise level."

The other two people arrested - Duncan Edward Hardee, 21, of Asheville, and Rakhee Shirish Vasthali, 21, of Fayetteville - were chanting outside of Tuesday's packed school board meeting.

They were each charged with one count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer, Sughrue said.

"It is sad. The last thing you want to do is arrest anyone," board chairman Ron Margiotta said.

Many local high school students were among the protesters expressing their opinions on the Wake County Board of Education's decision to work toward community-based schools in favor of the county's decade-old policy of assigning students to achieve socio-economic diversity.