Indiana University sued over protester bans

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit Friday against Indiana University, alleging that the school violated the First Amendment rights of people who are banned from campus after participating in pro-Palestine protests.

According to the ACLU, the three individuals arrested have been banned by Indiana University police and are prohibited from setting foot on campus for one year.

“Today’s filing contends that these bans are an unlawful prior restraint on the free speech rights of the plaintiffs, each of whom wants to rejoin the ongoing protests on campus,” the ACLU wrote.

The lawsuit is requesting that the one-year bans be dismissed to allow the plaintiffs to rejoin current and future protests on the campus.

The arrestees are Jasper Wirtshafter, a Bloomington resident, Dr. Benjamin Robinson, a tenured professor, and Madeleine Meldrum, a current graduate student.

There have been more than 50 arrests on the university’s campus since pro-Palestinian protests began. More than 2,000 protests have happened nationwide since community members began asking universities to divest from Israeli companies and companies that supply weapons to Israel.

The Indiana University arrests happened in Dunn Meadow, the campus’ designated free speech area.

“Since 1969, Dunn Meadow has been a public forum, a place for persons to engage in First Amendment expression. Indiana University cannot preemptively ban persons from engaging in this protected expression by prohibiting them from entering Dunn Meadow for a year or more,” ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said in a statement.

In remarks this week, President Biden emphasized that peaceful protest is protected under the First Amendment in the United States but “violent protest is not protected.”

The protests on college campuses have largely been peaceful but came to a head this week after police moved onto many campuses to disperse demonstrators. Pro-Palestine protesters have also been met with a growing number of counter protesters.

The Hill has reached out to Indiana University for comment on the lawsuit.

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