Brown University had to cancel New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s lecture yesterday, after protesters refused to let him speak. More than 100 students and activists turned out for the talk, and began shouting at Kelly as he tried to speak.
Brown officials told the protesters to wait for a question and answer session at the end of Kelly's talk, but they refused to quiet down. After nearly 30 minutes, Brown officials say they made the decision to clear the lecture hall.
The demonstrators were angry that Brown sponsored a lecture by Kelly, who has championed New York’s controversial stop-and-frisk police strategy. A federal judge ruled this summer that the policy violated the civil rights of minorities.
Students at the protest said they are also concerned by New York City Police surveillance of Muslim residents since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Brown Spokeswoman Marisa Quinn says Brown has a tradition of open dialogue on difficult subjects, calling the lecture's cancellation unfortunate. In a written statement, Brown President Christina Paxson characterized the disruptions as "an affront both to civil democratic society and to the University’s core values of dialogue and the free exchange of views.”