I posted about this in January (below) and there is a still-valid action alert here.
I wrote to the President of the University of Minnesota, who responded (below) and Mayor Hodges, who did not.
President Eric Kaler’s response:
Dear Mr. Muller,
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me.
Free speech and academic freedom are the bedrock of the University of Minnesota. The opportunity to pursue, hear, debate, and learn from unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and even provocative ideas is vital to the advancement of knowledge and the integrity of academia. The protesters who sought to prevent Professor Moshe Halbertal from expressing his ideas on November 3rd, 2015and who succeeded in delaying the presentation of the Dewey Lecture for more than 45 minutesstrovee to abrogate the right to free speech of Professor Halbertal and of every member of the audience gathered to hear him. Their action was not an expression of free speech but a deliberate attempt to erode it. As Dean Wippman wrote in his letter to the Law School community the day after the interrupted lecture, “It is unacceptable that [the protesters] should seek to deny other students and community members their own opportunity to hear an invited guest speak. Values of free speech and academic freedom are central to the University’s mission; we disregard them at our peril.
The University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) officers acted with great professionalism and restraint at this event. In conversation with protesters before the lecture was scheduled to begin, UMPD officers stated explicitly which behaviors were allowed by University policy and what the consequences would be of acting in violation of University policy. It is my understanding that the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Mr. Kushner for his conduct on the University of Minnesota campus. I do not believe it would be appropriate or warranted for me to attempt to interfere in that process.
Eric W. Kaler
Recently two informative pieces have been published on this case:
The Electronic Intifada (more details)
A couple of salient points:
- Rather than coming to her senses, it appears that Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal is doubling down on the prosecution, assigning two prosecutors to this bogus misdemeanor case. This has surely removed all doubt that those who objected to the reappointment of Ms. Segal by Mayor Hodges (I think Kushner was among these) were correct.
- The person whose presentation was “disrupted,” (not by Kushner) Moshe Halbertal, provides moral/intellectual cover for Israeli war crimes in Palestine. So, an Israeli-government-funded organization has contacted the City Attorney’s Office urging aggressive prosecution. See details in the second link above.
I have myself been the target of bogus, politically motivated, criminal prosecutions (not in Minnesota). Even if one knows that eventually the charges will be dropped or an acquittal will happen at a trial, the thing disrupts one’s life, and can be emotionally and financially draining. A lot of legal hours can be burned up in the defense, and, whether these are paid for at market rates, or donated pro-bono, or done pro se, or some combination, they are resources burned up that could be better used.
So, I hope people will speak out against this bogus prosecution:
Susan Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney: (612) 673-2010
Mayor Betsy Hodges: (612) 673-2100