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May 26, 2015 / 8 Sivan, 5775
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CUNY Claim of No Constitutional Violations at BC BDS Event Flawed

The standard for judging whether constitutional rights can be abrogated is not, as the Investigators claimed in their Report, based on sincerity, but on whether or not, at the very least, there was a reasonable belief that the Four were about to disrupt the BC BDS event. The Investigators stated clearly that there was no such reasonable belief at the time the Four were ejected from the event. Doesn't this mean the Investigators drew the wrong conclusion?

Brooklyn College BDS forum, Feb. 7, 2013

Brooklyn College BDS forum, Feb. 7, 2013
Photo Credit: Facebook

♦ Other noise that was made was made by or caused by Guzman’s intervention. (R.p.32)

♦ The Four had neither passed out nor were “waving about” the informational leaflets (R.p. 32)

♦  Nothing the four students had done gave rise to a reasonable fear that a disturbance was about to erupt. (R.p. 37)

♦ Guzman had no basis for demanding the students turn over their informational leaflets, and the students were justified in refusing to do so. (R.p. 32).

In other words, the reasons given to justify the removal of the Four had no basis in fact.  The Four had not caused a disturbance; had not passed out or waved about informational leaflets; had not interfered with the ability of audience members to hear the speaker; had not provided any reason to believe that they were about to create a disturbance; and had been justified in refusing to hand over their informational leaflets.

So, what did happen at the event?

According to testimony provided to the Investigators, no audience members complained of any disturbance to any of the student monitors or faculty marshalls in the room.  The BC student monitors (R.p. 25), the faculty marshalls (R.p. 31), the plainclothes officers (R.p.27) and the BC administrators (R.p. 28) who were present in the room did not see or hear any disturbances.

The three audiotapes made of the event all revealed there were no disturbances during the event.  The only audible noise, other than the speaker and occasional chanting from outside the building when the speaker was quiet, was minor shushing when the Four entered the room, the noise made when Guzman demanded the Four turn over their papers, and then the protest by one of the Four – that their free speech rights were being violated – when they were ejected. (R.p. 31)

REPORTS OF DISTURBANCES AND DISTRIBUTION OF LEAFLETS

♦ Guzman told the Investigators that Ismail Bekiroglus, an SJP student monitor, “confirmed that a member of the audience had complained that the four were making a disturbance.” (R.p. 26)

◊ However, Bekiroglus’s statement to the Investigators was that he did not hear any noise other than one person say “shhh,” and another say “quiet down,”  when the Four entered the room. (R. p. 25)

♦ Guzman told the Investigators that an SJP student, Ameera Hasan, told him during the event that there were students inside who were disturbing the event. (R.p.27)

♦Guzman told the Investigators that an SJP student, Hannah Johami, came over to him and told him there were four people inside the room who were disturbing the event. (R.p.25)

◊ Two SJP students, Hasan and Johami, told the Investigators that after the event began, another person – whom they did not know – came out and said there were people inside creating a disturbance and “she thought they were passing out flyers.” (R.p. 25) Hasan told Investigators that the unknown female pointed out the Four to her when they went together into the room. Hasan said she told Guzman about the disturbance. (R.p. 26)

The unnamed female was not otherwise mentioned in the Report, so there is no way of knowing how much, if any, effort was made to find this individual, although there were plenty of pictures of the event attendees posted on the SJP Facebook page.

Guzman told an administrator, Vice President for Student Affairs Milga Morales, who was in the room at the time, that The Four were “disturbing the event.” (R.p. 26)

◊ Morales corroborated that Guzman told her this, but she said she did not observe any disturbances. (R.p. 28)

Guzman told the Investigators that Morales told him she would walk over and talk to the Four.  (R. p. 26) Guzman also told the Investigators that even after she went over to the Four and spoke to them, they continued talking. (R.p. 27) ◊ Morales told the Investigators, however, that she told Guzman to talk to the Four, she saw him do that, and she said the room was quiet after that until the Four were expelled.  (R. p. 28)

♦ Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Joseph Giovanelli, who was standing outside the event room told the Investigators that Guzman told him and some of the public safety officers in the hall that “the students who were making a disturbance would not listen to him and had to leave.” (R. p. 28)

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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6 Responses to “CUNY Claim of No Constitutional Violations at BC BDS Event Flawed”

  1. Stan Brin says:

    Anybody stupid enough to expect a different opinion?

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    No!

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    This report reminds me of a Mark Twain quote, "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics." I leave it to you the reader to prove that the 36 page report doesn't fall under all three categories.

  4. Alan Kardon says:

    This is a publicly funded school. Why are we hearing that it was run by incompetent people. Let some heads roll and get better administrators.

  5. An incompetently run event is bad enough. A politically slanted event is worse, though not exactly a big surprise. BUT — a report by intelligent lawyers, at a fancy law firm, paid, no doubt, lots of tax dollars do to their 36 page legal analysis — for such a report to get the law WRONG? That's a big problem.

    I hope the students whose rights were violated have read this article, and the report, and that they are prepared to do something about it. This being America, the thing to do when your rights are violated is to hold the violators to account. In court.

  6. Anonymous says:

    As I listen to the Boston events today the uncle of the bombers said that they were not raised like this. He said they must have been radicalized elsewhere. My first thought was that they probably went to a BDS event on campus. This is why BDS, and other hate organizations, should be kept off campuses.

    This is what Karen Gould, BC President doesn't understand. This wasn't about free speech. This was about prevention of violence.

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