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April 29, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. – In response to multiple Virginia universities’ arrest and search of students engaging in pro-Palestinian protests, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Mary Bauer released the following statement: 

“Universities that attack their students’ free speech undermine our democracy – as well as their own mandate to foster learning and the robust exchange of ideas. The First Amendment guarantees people in Virginia the right to protest, including on behalf of Palestinians, so we’re disappointed to learn that Virginia universities have deployed police against their own students for expressing their views about the ongoing conflict.  

“We urge public officials and university leaders across the Commonwealth to refrain from interfering with students’ free speech, and to carefully distinguish between real danger and mere controversy. Universities are charged with creating environments that encourage students to exercise their First Amendment rights – not ones that have license to violate students’ civil rights and civil liberties.”