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Harvard tonight asked that criminal charges be dropped against four undergraduates arrested last week for disrupting a speech by the director of the FBI.
"Given the importance of dissent in an academic community, the arrest of a student protestor remains a significant event," said a statement released tonight by a University spokesman. "The University is persuaded that more could have been done in the circumstances to apprise the students that they were in jeopardy of arrest. Without condoning the students’ behavior at the Forum, broader principles have led the University to request that the criminal charges against the students be dropped."
Last Thursday, Kelly L. Lee ’07, Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07, Maura A. Roosevelt ’07 and J. Claire Provost ’07 had planned a coordinated protest in which each would consecutively interrupt the speaker, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, by yelling specific complaints from the audience. They were arrested by members of the Harvard University Police Department and charged with disturbing a public assembly.
According to the police report, obtained by The Crimson from the Cambridge District Courthouse Monday, “All of the individuals were yelling ‘the FBI are murderers’ and ‘the FBI equals terrorism.’ They were all yelling other slogans as well but kept repeating the two aforementioned phrases the most.”
However, video footage from the event—available online on the IOP’s Web site—shows that neither of these phrases was ever uttered by the protesters.
Instead, protesters yelled a series of statements that the students said were carefully planned out and meant to be targeted towards specific issues.
Among the statements yelled by the protesters at the speech were: “We will never forget the state terror waged by the FBI against peaceful political dissidents. We will never forget the FBI’s role in McCarthyism,” “Stop the Green scare, stop the unconstitutional repression of environmental activists,” “Free the Panther Eight. Justice for Herman Bell,” and “Close Guantanamo. End the lies, end the secrets.”
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