Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot
A pro-Hamas sit-in at Stony Brook U, followed a march through campus and arrests, March 26, 2024.

An open electronic letter signed by more than 450 “faculty, staff, students, alumni and others” had been posted, criticizing the arrests of 9 Stony Brook University students on March 26, Newsday reported last Tuesday. It was one of numerous anti-Israel / pro-Hamas demonstrations that have emerged as the most contentious controversies on college campuses in recent memory.

The letter read: “The use of campus police to arrest students for holding a sit-in and the administration’s intolerance to peaceful protest threaten the free exchange of ideas and will have a chilling effect on the intellectual atmosphere of this university. … As faculty, students, staff, and community members, we are concerned that the university responded to a sit-in with arrests, which is tantamount to criminalizing free speech and peaceful protest.”


The letter called for charges against the 9 trespassers to be dropped, for the school to provide a public accounting of the policy and decision-making that preceded the arrests, and the barring of campus police from future demonstrations.

According to Newsday, university police made arrests during a rally that involved a campus march followed by a demonstration inside the administration building. The rally aimed to show support for Hamas and advocate for divestment from Israel.

These were the first arrests of pro-Hamas demonstrators on the grounds of Stony Brook, which have seen numerous anti-Israel rallies since October 7, 2023.

Zach Greenberg, an attorney representing the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, told Newsday that protesters’ free speech and free assembly rights are limited to public, open, outdoor spaces.

“When protesters move inside a building, particularly if they’re using drums and a bullhorn, it can create significant disruption,” Greenberg said, stressing that in such cases, the university has the authority to intervene and disband the protest.

Stony Brook said on Wednesday: “While we regret this outcome, it is our responsibility to protect the university from disruption and to hold students accountable for behavior that impacts the safety, security and operations of the university.”

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