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Indiana University sued over ban on protesters

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit against Indiana University on Friday, claiming the school violated the First Amendment rights of people banned from campus after participating in pro-Palestinian protests.

According to the ACLU, the three people arrested have been banned by Indiana University Police and will not be allowed to set foot on campus for a year.

“Today’s filing alleges that these bans constitute an unlawful prior restriction on the free speech rights of Plaintiffs, all of whom seek to participate in the ongoing protests on campus,” the ACLU wrote.

The lawsuit calls for the one-year ban to be dismissed so that the plaintiffs can resume participating in current and future protests on campus.

Those arrested are Jasper Wirtschafter, a resident of Bloomington, Dr. Benjamin Robinson, a tenured professor, and Madeleine Meldrum, a current graduate student.

More than fifty arrests have been made on the university campus since the pro-Palestinian protests began. More than 2,000 protests have taken place nationwide since community members began asking universities to divest from Israeli companies and companies that supply weapons to Israel.

The Indiana University arrests took place in Dunn Meadow, the campus’ designated free speech space.

“Since 1969, Dunn Meadow has been a public forum, a place where people can express themselves about the First Amendment. Indiana University cannot preemptively prohibit individuals from engaging in this protected expression by denying them access to Dunn Meadow for a year or more,” Ken Falk, legal director of ACLU of Indiana, said in a statement.

In his remarks this week, President Biden emphasized that peaceful protest in the United States is protected under the First Amendment, but that “violent protest is not protected.”

Protests on college campuses have been largely peaceful but came to a head this week after police moved to many campuses to disperse demonstrators. Pro-Palestinian protesters have also faced a growing number of counter-protesters.

The Hill has reached out to Indiana University for comment on the lawsuit.

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