NEW YORK–Over the past week, police and state troopers have been deployed to respond to student protesters on a large scale at multiple universities, including at Columbia University, New York University, Emory University, Emerson College, University of Texas at Austin, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Washington University, Yale University, and University of Southern California, among others.  In addition, multiple political leaders  have called for the deployment of the national guard to college campuses–the same kind of action that went tragically wrong at Kent State University 54 years ago.  

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

“The large-scale deployment of armed officers to suppress peaceful protest on college campuses around the country is a shocking development. This response to peaceful protest is an assault on free speech–and it is also deeply reckless. Of course in some instances it may be necessary for universities to involve law enforcement where criminal conduct is at issue, but bringing armed officers into conflict with peaceful protesters creates situations that can escalate quickly and unpredictably. Political leaders and others demanding a militarized response to peaceful protest should consider more carefully the possible consequences of their demands. And all of us, whether or not we share the politics of the protesters, should be alarmed by the precedent that is being established here—and about the ways in which this precedent might be exploited in the future.”

On Monday, the Knight First Amendment Institute sent a letter to Columbia University’s President Minouche Shafik calling for an urgent “course correction” in the university’s response to student protesters on campus. Read the letter here.

For more information, contact: Adriana Lamirande, [email protected]