Students and professors of Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. protested and took a knee outside an auditorium where Attorney General Jeff Sessions was giving a lecture on free speech, saying Sessions was being "hypocritical."
"We, the disinvited, find it extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions would lecture future attorneys about free speech on campus while excluding the wider student body," law student Ambur Smith said at the protest, according to The Washington Post.
More than 130 student protesters say they had their invitations to the event revoked, according to The Washington Post. They believe it was because the Georgetown Center for the Constitution at Georgetown Law, the group hosting Sessions, wanted to ensure a "sympathetic audience."
"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," Greyson Wallis, a Georgetown law student, told The Washington Post. "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."
Protests at the University of California at Berkeley turned violent in February 2017, forcing the cancellation of a speech by self-described "alt-right" provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
A Georgetown Law spokeswoman said invitations for the event were handled the same as they are for any event, according to The Washington Post.
The spokeswoman said the hosting organization has the right to determine the guest list due to the venue's limited capacity. The Center for the Constitution made the decision to invite students who had attended past events hosted by the center. NPR reports there were empty seats inside the auditorium during Sessions' speech.
More than 30 law professors joined the protest and signed a statement saying they "condemn the hypocrisy of Attorney General Sessions speaking about free speech," according to Slate.
The professors took a knee during the protest, a reference to the protest that swept the NFL after President Donald Trump called for players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired.
Sessions defended Trump's comments during his speech at Georgetown Law, saying the president has "free speech rights, too," according to NPR.
"These players, with all the assets that they have, can express their political views [in ways] other than, in effect, denigrating the symbols of our nation," Sessions said.
Sessions went on to say that player's individual freedoms were "paramount under the Constitution ... It's not a contradiction."