Healey Pledges To “Hold The Line” On Free Speech – Boston News, Weather, Sports

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Without invoking specific protests or incidents on college campuses, Gov. Maura Healey emphasized Monday the importance of differentiating between free speech and potentially criminal conduct.

“Unfortunately, I think you’re seeing more and more instances where demonstrations are lending themselves to action that is simply not protected under free speech doctrine,” Healey said at a press conference when asked about hate-based incidents on college campuses.

The governor added, “I do want to be clear, there is a distinction, and I know that all of us who work together with law enforcement will make sure that we’re gonna hold the line when it comes to addressing that distinction.”

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst this month, a student was arrested for assaulting a Jewish student following a UMass Hillel event focused on calling for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza, according to Western Mass News. Also at UMass Amherst, about 60 pro-Palestinian protestors were arrested for trespassing last month as they staged a sit-in protest at an administrative building where they called on university officials to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza and cut ties with defense contractor Raytheon Technology.

Brandeis University this month revoked its recognition of the National Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus. President Ron Liebowitz said university officials made the decision because SJP supports Hamas, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization, and “its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people.”

“All students, faculty, and staff are welcome here, and encouraged to participate in the free exchange of ideas,” Liebowitz said in a message to the university community. “To promote such free exchange, we must not and do not condone hate, the incitement of violence, or threats against or harassment of anyone, be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Israeli, Palestinian, or any other religion or ethnicity.”

“I know that we’re going to continue to work in communication with our colleges and universities here in Massachusetts,” Healey said. “We’re proud in Massachusetts to be home to so many wonderful educational institutions, and it’s important that we continue to provide them with the guidance and assistance they need.”

Attorney General Andrea Campbell indicated her office is also responding to hate on college campuses.

“We will work with our college and university presidents as they’re grappling with an unprecedented uptick in incidents on their campuses to be as helpful as we can,” Campbell said.

(Copyright (c) 2023 State House News Service.

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