College Continuing Review of Kelly Speech Protest


A Brown University committee has wrapped up the first phase and started the second in its review of a rowdy campus protest that shut down a speech by then-New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on his department’s stop-question-and-frisk policy, and expects to make recommendations this spring on how the school can handle controversial speakers on campus.

University President Christina Paxson released an 11-page committee report about events that led to the Oct. 29 protest. The report did not draw conclusions, but rather focused on documenting what happened in the weeks leading up to the speech, in which Kelly had planned to discuss the policy, which allowed police to stop and search anyone they deem suspicious. Some critics said the practice unfairly targeted blacks and Hispanics.

Kelly’s speech was cut short by university administrators after a crowd, including Brown students and members of the Providence community, repeatedly shouted Kelly down.

Paxson appointed the committee — of faculty members and students — to first review what happened and then come up with recommendations “regarding how Brown can maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for all of our members while upholding our commitment to the free exchange of ideas.”

Professor Anthony Bogues, the committee chairman, said one thing the committee would “absolutely not” consider recommending is placing restrictions on outsiders who wish to come and hear speakers on campus.

“It sets up the university as an institution apart from the community. A university cannot carry out its function of training young people for citizenship and then isolate itself from the community. It cannot do that,” he said. “That’s not a recommendation we would make.”

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