Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited the campus of Georgetown University Law Center in Washington on Tuesday to give a lecture on the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
However, over 100 students that had reportedly been invited to the event were barred and dis-invited due to the threat of protests against the Trump administration’s top justice official.
Greyson Wallis, a law student at Georgetown, told the Washington Post that:
“It seemed like they were rescinding those invites because they didn’t want any sort of hostile environment, and I can understand not wanting to have a violent environment, but that’s not at all what we were trying to do. We’re law students. We all just wanted to hear what he had to say and let him know where we differ from his opinions.”
As Sessions read remarks about plans to defend free speech, some students in attendance silently protested the event by placing duct tape over their mouths. Roughly 100 other students and approximately 40 faculty members stood outside the building in protest, holding signs and chanting through bullhorns. They also took a knee and later linked arms, in a symbolic reference to protests over the weekend by NFL players against accusations of police violence toward African Americans.
“A law school is a place for people to learn about the deepest principles that undergird our democratic republic. Those principles are trampled upon by Attorney General sessions in particular and Donald Trump,” Georgetown law professor Heidi Li Feldman said. “You cannot invite people who so thoroughly threaten the basic premises of American law to a campus and not speak up if your mission in life is to educate people about the American legal system.”
Tanya Weinberg, a spokesperson for the law school, replied to criticisms lobbed against the school saying “At events like today’s, we designate protest areas to allow free expression on campus in a manner that upholds safety and security and minimizes potential disruptions to learning. Additionally, students in the auditorium were allowed to protest in a way that did not disrupt the event.”