Signs in hand, protestors ‘stop’ Ray Kelly

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly‘s planned visit to Brown had been causing campus uproar for some days now, but the already tense dialogue surrounding Kelly’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy came to a head yesterday at the List Arts Building when protestors booed Kelly offstage. The program was concluded around thirty minutes in—after Vice President for Campus Life Margaret Klawunn and Vice President for Public Affairs Marisa Quinn deemed the heckling too disruptive. Kelly was invited to Brown to deliver the annual Noah Krieger ’93 Memorial Lecture.

Kelly, who has spent 43 years with the NYPD and has held the position of police commissioner twice, once from 1992-4 and from 2002-present, has been lauded for his counterterrorist work in a post-9/11 New York City as well as his effectiveness in lowering crime. However, the stop-and-frisk policy, in which NYPD officers question and search suspicious pedestrians on the street, has been deemed racial profiling by many activists. The vast majority of those stopped are Hispanic or African-American. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional back in August.

As such, despite his long career as a civil servant, many Brown students found the Taubman Center for Public Policy’s invitation to Kelly offensive and racially insensitive.

Campus uproar began days ago. Posters reading “Stop Ray(cist) Kelly” and likening Kelly to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan were plastered across campus and dissenters hosted a vigil on the steps of Faunce on Monday.

The protests began outside List at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, thirty minutes before Kelly’s scheduled arrival, and continued both in and outside until the program was cancelled.

Protestors lingering outside the List Arts Center after Commissioner Ray Kelly was booed offstage.

Protestors lingering outside the List Arts Center after Commissioner Ray Kelly was booed offstage.

The event, which was free and open to the public, drew far more people than List 120, where Kelly was set to speak, could hold. Some people were ushered into an overfill room where the event was broadcasted on a Simulcast, while many stood outside List, observing the protestors and awaiting news about how Kelly handled the vitriolic crowd.

In an email to the Brown community, President Christina Paxson expressed disapproval of those who did not allow Kelly to speak, calling his silencing “unfair to everyone involved and disrespectful to the rights we all embrace.”

Students and Providence community members lingered outside List for over thirty minutes after Kelly left, continuing to chant and march, makeshift signs in hand.

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Brown students reacted to the cancellation of the lecture on social media. Several took to Facebook, where students are planning to write letters to President Paxson in support of free speech. Within the rally’s Facebook event, the protestors “liked” that their efforts were covered by several mainstream publications.

Many others took to Twitter:

Images via Jacob Koffler ’17 / BlogDH, Connor McGuigan ’15 / BlogDH, viavia.

9 Comments

  1. Paul

    What happened to Kelly has nothing to do with constitutionally protected free speech which only prohibits the state from infringing on that right. In fact, violations of free speech are what Kelly and his NYPD routinely engage in against people and communities of color, in addition to other civil and human rights violations. The Federal court found that S&F is in fact, racial profiling and unconstitutional. The state did NOT threaten or put Kelley in prison for speaking. An outraged community LEGITIMATELY booed him off the stage. That is NOT preventing free speech, but exercising it – well done Brown students!

  2. '15

    Stop-and-frisk indeed has been determined to be racial profiling by many activists. It was also deemed racial profiling by a federal court and ruled unconstitutional–but, sorry, kooky activists shout down hard-working cop better fits the blog’s blind Paxson-obsessed, #1 happiest students, quirky-nicey-nice-liberal Brown narrative.

    Please please please stick to innocuous listicles.

  3. I think it is good to stifle Kellys speech, universities can not survive with differing viewpoints.

  4. 80% of all violent crime is committed by a specific minority group that makes up 20% of our population. Of course they will be against that which hinders them plying their ‘trade’.

    Soft headed students would be wise to recognize the realities of the world we live in, and come to the support of Ray Kelly and his compatriots.

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