Demonstrators at Northeastern University were arrested today, just days after student demonstrators were arrested at Emerson College.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, today released the following statement:

“In the face of protests about Israel and Palestine, universities should not be too quick to call in police to break up peaceful demonstrations. And law enforcement — including local and Massachusetts state police — should exercise restraint. While schools can announce and enforce reasonable content-neutral protest policies, inviting police into a campus protest environment escalates tensions and creates unacceptable risks to the safety of all. It also chills peaceful expression and discourages meaningful dialogue. Especially in challenging times, schools and law enforcement must resist political pressure to crack down on peaceful protests with force. Free expression is a cornerstone of our democracy; educational institutions must be committed to embracing and defending it.

“Accounts of antisemitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian rhetoric are deeply disturbing. Students deserve to be safe and learn, and true threats and actual violence can and must be addressed. Yet university administrators and police must not single out particular viewpoints — however offensive they may be to some members of the community — for censorship, discipline, or disproportionate punishment. Officials should also be aware that counter-protestors may make inflammatory statements in hopes they will be attributed to demonstrators. Campus officials and police should take great care to distinguish between controversial speech and actual threats or discriminatory harassment.”