New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was shouted off the stage when he mentioned the NYPD stop-and-frisk policy during a speech at Brown University on Tuesday.
Kelly’s lecture, “Proactive Policing in America’s Biggest City,” was cut short when dozens of students and activists began protesting the afternoon speech.
“Racism is not for debate,” yelled one protester, quoted by the New York Post.
Activists stood up in the middle of Kelly’s speech and began making speeches of their own.
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While students were asked by administrators to hold their comments until a question-and-answer session, they continued to shout throughout the lecture and the hall was cleared out.
More than 100 students gathered to protest stop-and-frisk, a policy that a federal judge ruled unconstitutional, saying it targetted and violated the rights of minorities. The city is currently appealing the ruling.
In a statement following the incident, the Ivy League school’s president, Christina Paxson, denounced the protest.
“The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront both to civil democratic society and to the university’s core values of dialogue and the free exchange of views,” read Paxson’s statement.
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Students originally petitioned to cancel Kelly’s lecture. The gathered more than 500 signatures, but the school went ahead with it anyway.
“So today, we cancelled it for them,” said Brown student Jenny Yi.
She said protesters thought it was unfair that many people who have worked and drafted legislation in Rhode Island to counter methods like the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk were not invited to the event.
“We felt that it wasn’t an even playing field for anyone,” Yi told Brown Political Review.
City attorneys told a federal appeals panel Tuesday that the ruling against stop-and-frisk has made officers “passive and scared.” They want the panel to suspend the ruling during the city’s appeal.
Courtney Saleski, an attorney for the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said officers are afraid to use the tactic because they’re unsure if they’re violating the constitution.
"That means constitutional stops are being chilled and that's not good for the safety of the community," Saleski argued.
The following is a video of the event posted by Brown Political Review.