This is a follow up to our post last night, Brown U. students shout down Ray Kelly.
The Brown Political Review has produced an excellent video (embedded at bottom of post) with footage both inside and outside the auditorium as Kelly was shouted down, and interviews with students and administrators.
Is is quite clear that there was an organized effort to shut down the Kelly speech, and that many of the people shouting were not even students. Student Emily Kassie, who produced the video (speaking for herself, not BPR), told me via email:
The protestors were a mix of Providence community members and Brown students. There is a moment in the video where people are asked to raise their hands if they want to hear Kelly speak. About half the room raised their hands.
The woman in the image below (since removed) related how she was called a White Supremacist for wanting to attend the lecture (at 9:30):
I got called a White Supremacist when I tried to go inside, cause I told a man near the front door that I wanted to hear what Kelly had to say. And I think that’s pretty ridiculous. I think the idea that suppressing another person’s right to free speech equals exercising your free speech is completely wrong.
In a press release, the BPR described what went on inside the auditorium:
Kelly had time only to thank the event organizers, before a group of students and community members in the audience rose simultaneously to read prepared remarks. “Asking tough questions is not enough!” they read together, fists raised in unison.
Individual audience members then rose sporadically to rebuke Kelly, who stood silently at the podium. “You’re violating our rights! And you expect us to be civil towards you?” said one man, prompting cheers from the crowd.
“Let the man speak!” one audience member was heard shouting. An event organizer approached a protestor and asked him to “Please stop shouting.” The man refused, and for the next fifteen minutes, over a dozen onlookers in the crowd rose to condemn Kelly, who stood at the podium in silence.
“Enough is enough!” shouted one woman. “Ray Ray go away!” shouted another.
Event organizers briefly took the podium to restore order, but their appeal was unsuccessful. The event was then cut short, after approximately 25 minutes of protests.
I don’t think this is the last we’ll be hearing about this event, the protest, Ray Kelly or racial profiling. The Brown Campus is more politically charged then I’ve ever seen it. We’ve had two weeks of students urging and protesting the university to divest in coal, and yesterday’s event has added more fuel to the fire (although they are two very separate events.) It is important to note that campus is split on the shut down of Ray Kelly’s speech–some celebrating their victory, and others disappointed that they were not able to engage in an active dialogue with him, and embarrassed by the actions of their peers. President Paxson has already sent out an email to the community expressing her disappointment and I don’t expect it will stop there. There next few weeks will be heavy with community meetings and talks, and hopefully we will create a constructive space for open-dialogue.
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