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FIRE Comes to Defense of UConn Students Arrested Over Racial Slurs

FIRE Comes to Defense of UConn Students Arrested Over Racial Slurs

“pursuant to a statue that any reasonable police officer would have known is unconstitutional”

This case is a perfect example of why an organization like FIRE is needed. Read the back story here.

Campus Reform reports:

Charges against UConn students arrested for ‘ridiculing’ language ‘must be dropped,’ legal org says

A student free speech legal advocacy organization has come to the support of two University of Connecticut students who were arrested Monday for using a racial slur.

As previously reported by Campus Reform, the students were tracked down by the university police and charged under a Connecticut state statute that prohibits “ridiculing” language. Free speech experts say both the investigation and the charge are unconstitutional.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education penned a letter to the University of Connecticut on Wednesday, advising the school to “disclaim the possibility of further punishment” against the students who were arrested Monday for using a racial slur. FIRE accuses the institution of having already made a “stunning departure from its constitutional obligations” in assisting with bringing charges against the students, which FIRE says “must be dropped.”

The students were arrested after another student filmed them saying the word in what was allegedly a dare scenario. The filming student then contacted university police who used a combination of security footage, card swipe data, and WiFi connection data to track down the students.

“FIRE is deeply concerned by the investigation and arrest of two students by the University of Connecticut Police Department pursuant to a statue that any reasonable police officer would have known is unconstitutional,” FIRE wrote. “However offensive the use of a racial epithet, not directed at any person, the First Amendment protects offensive language, and neither the University of Connecticut nor its police officers may abridge students’ First Amendment rights.”


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What is wrong with these people at FIRE? It’s almost as if they think there’s freedom of speech in this country! What’ll they want next? Freedom of religion?


This case is a perfect example of why an organization like FIRE is needed.

We used to have one.

Something must have happened to it.

It gets worse. The law under which they were arrested, blatantly unconstitutional as it is, is explicitly limited to advertisements. It does not cover anything else. Therefore, constitutional or not, these two students were not even breaking it. Their arrest is brazenly illegal, and the policemen who arrested them have no qualified immunity; the students should sue them personally and take their houses and pensions.

    PostLiberal in reply to Milhouse. | October 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    I would agree that individuals should be sued. But the action should be directed at those higher up in the chain of command. I very much doubt that some cops made the arrest without the approval of the police chief. Sue the police chief.The UConn President, while we don’t know his involvement before the arrest, was very vocal in approving the arrest. Sue the UConn President.

      Milhouse in reply to PostLiberal. | October 27, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      I don’t see what the president could be sued for. He didn’t arrest them or harm them in any way. The same first amendment that protects their right to say the things they did protects his right to advocate their arrest, or to applaud it.

        Edward in reply to Milhouse. | October 28, 2019 at 9:35 am

        The article states that UConn supported the investigation and arrest (presumably by providing UConn records [likely without subpoena] which aided in identifying the alleged perpetrators. If the University President is shown to have encouraged the UConn PD to investigate and bring charges before a prosecutor*, and/or made the decision to assist the investigation with University assets without Subpoena or other mandatory demand (if such exists in CT)he should be liable for his actions.

        * It might be remotely possible that such actions by the PD, which is an entity of, and responsible to, the University might take place without any knowledge or involvement of the university president. But I doubt it happened without involvement to some degree.

          Milhouse in reply to Edward. | October 28, 2019 at 2:32 pm

          It is not against the law to support a false arrest (or any other crime), it is not against the law to assist the police in an investigation that is being conducted in bad faith, and it is certainly not against the law to encourage the police to conduct such an investigation or to encourage them to present evidence of a non-crime to a prosecutor. (The police, of course, cannot bring charges; that’s the prosecutor’s job.)

    CincyJan in reply to Milhouse. | October 28, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    I can’t condone going after a cop’s home or pension, for Pete’s sake. And to what degree is an individual cop responsible for interpreting the law under which someone is arrested? Don’t we have a chain of command, prosecutors and judges to determine that? if these young men were arrested for using the N-word, that is ridiculous. This is America and they are free to make total fools of themselves. Although I don’t personally believe words should be given so much power as to be dangerous. You’d think today’s SJWs would know the difference between a slur and a punch in the nose.