BLOGWhen Conservative Students Are Arrested on Campus and Violent Rioters Go Free

By Marissa Mayer Posted on: | February 06, 2017

Mind boggling.

That’s the polite way to explain how dozens of violent rioters at UC Berkeley earlier this week could set fires on campus, vandalize and loot buildings, and beat innocent bystanders. Yet there were only three arrests.

But it’s even more ludicrous when you consider that, meanwhile, conservative students are walking on egg shells and jumping through unconstitutional hoops just to exercise their free speech on campus—or risk being arrested.

No, I’m not exaggerating—it actually happened.

A student and two other people were arrested last September at Kellogg Community College (KCC) in Battle Creek, Michigan for standing on the sidewalk, handing out copies of the Constitution, and asking passing students if they “like freedom and liberty.” The group was looking to start a chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) on campus.

Officials at KCC, including the police chief, ordered them to stop engaging in “solicitation,” threatening that they would be arrested for trespassing if they continued.

The group calmly explained that they had a constitutional right to be there, but campus security disagreed. They were handcuffed and thrown in the county jail for seven hours.

Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit against KCC on behalf of the student group.

Now contrast that with the Berkeley riots earlier this week.

On Wednesday night, a large crowd was protesting a Berkeley College Republicans event featuring Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos. A group of masked rioters soon joined the protestors, and things quickly escalated to violence and destruction.

Campus officials decided to try to defuse the situation by cancelling Yiannopoulos’ speech and attempting to disperse the crowd, but there was certainly no appeasing the rioters.

UC Berkeley described the scene like this:

Fires that were deliberately set, one outside the campus Amazon outlet; Molotov cocktails that caused generator-powered spotlights to catch fire; commercial-grade fireworks thrown at police officers; barricades pushed into windows and skirmishes within the crowd were among the evening’s violent acts.

If you’re more of a visual person, the Daily Signal posted photos of what it described as “the latest example of liberal tolerance.”

And that sure seems to be the case these days.

We are seeing a clear double standard with how conservative students and their ideas are treated on campus compared to those who oppose them. Instead of encouraging all students to freely share their ideas and opinions, conservative students are more likely to be silenced by administrators (cancelled events, denied speech permits, charged outrageous security fees, etc.) or face severe consequences when they stand up for their rights.

But colleges are supposed to be a place where free speech and thoughtful debate thrive. No student should have to fear for their physical safety on campus, worry about whether they will have the same educational opportunities as everyone else, or yield their First Amendment rights to the will of administrators just because someone disagrees with their political or religious views.

Peaceful protesting is one thing—but the Berkeley riots were far from peaceful and instead suppressed free speech. The school can make all the statements it wants to about the importance of free speech, but many public university officials across the country are failing to set a good example of what it means to be truly tolerant of differing viewpoints. Some are actually encouraging these riots by ordering campus security not to intervene when mobs try to block people from hearing conservative speakers. And their failures are rubbing off on those who attend their schools and visit their campuses.

After all, if a school is willing to escalate the peaceful exercise of free speech by conservative students into threats and arrest, surely they can’t be surprised when others escalate into violence and destruction. 

We Must Not Back Down

Our children and grandchildren are facing increasing hostility on college campuses nationwide, and efforts to silence them are only getting stronger. Your financial support helps Alliance Defending Freedom continue to work on behalf of the young men and women who are not afraid to stand up when their rights are trampled on campus. We defend them free of charge against unconstitutional speech policies and misguided school administrators who think they can give and take away First Amendment freedoms at will.  Thank you for doing your part to defend the future generation with your gift today.

Protect Free Speech on Campus

Marissa Mayer

Senior Web Writer

Marissa Mayer is an Arizona native who fell in love with the written word at a young age.

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