Campus Police Are Arresting Your Children

by shay bell

On Monday, April 29th, students of VCU, as well as others, gathered on campus in a peaceful demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinians suffering a horrific genocide in Gaza. The gathering was a nonviolent communion of students and community members across Richmond. That was until, of course, the cops came. 

VCU police violently interrupted this event, coming after dark, in hoards, to arrest and pepper spray your students who maintained a peaceful, unarmed stand of solidarity. Footage can be seen of VCU police, donned in riot gear, aggressively and violently shoving and pepper-spraying students who are protected under the Constitution to assemble and speak freely. Sixth Amendment rights were soon violated as police refused to allow attorneys to speak with detained students

This wasn’t the first incident of police violence against free speech. Acts of solidarity are being performed all over our Commonwealth campuses and ending in violent police disruption. Eighty-two arrests were made at Virginia Tech and another 12 at the University of Mary Washington, all in clear violation of their First Amendment rights. Yet another reason to …

As always, Governor Youngkin and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears have the wrong thing to say in response to this incident. The same Governor who took such a strong stance to protect our First Amendment rights is now hypocritically condoning the arrest of your students for peacefully protesting under the false, claiming them as anti-semitic, “hate speech and intimidation” despite the Jewish communities’ presence at these demonstrations. Let us be perfectly clear about one fact: the only thing violent about these demonstrations is the police. I don’t know how many times this man can show he does not give a f*ck about me, you, your children, our Commonwealth as a whole, and now even keeping his word! Which, isn’t that like all a man has???? 

And here his Lt. Governor comes tweeting on after him, as boldly as ever, weaponizing the Black community like she seems to have a pattern of doing when she’s caught in the wrong. She missed the mark then, neglecting the longstanding history and intersectionality of Black and LGBTQIA+ solidarity, and she’s missing it now with the longstanding history and intersectionality of Black and Palestinian people. And while we’re out here fact-checking, quickly, Lt. Governor Sears – or literally anyone, I’m begging – when was the last time you were in support of a policy that truly supported Black communities? I mean in fundamental, actionable ways, like giving our children the real education about the history of the United States, for instance? 

Check out our latest Press Release to find out more information about PV’s stance on this issue and keep an eye out for the latest in developments. Additionally, if you know someone who was unlawfully arrested for performing their first amendment rights, the RVA Bail Fund is a great resource for those looking to give or receive donations.

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