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College professors should never lay hands on students: National Lawyers Guild

Law student was attacked by her professor. College professors should never lay hands on students: National Lawyers Guild
At the home of the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, a law student was attacked by her professor while demonstrating against the genocide in Gaza. Image capture of the video broadcast on X

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The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) stressed that ?University professors should never put their hands on students,? in a statement made on their social networks that condemned the events that occurred on April 10, where a law student at the University of Berkeley was attacked by her professor at a private dinner while demonstrating against the genocide in Gaza.

The incident occurred this Wednesday at the home of the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky, and professor Catherine Fisk.

Dean Chemerinsky and Professor Fisk invited law students to a private dinner at their home, at which one guest spoke out against the genocide in Palestine and the dean's complicity, an action the NLG called "brave."

In the video circulating on social networks, you can see the Palestinian Muslim student from the Berkeley Law School, Malak Afaneh, being physically attacked by Professor Catherine Fisk, preventing her from continuing her speech against the genocide in Loop.

?We saw videos in which Professor Fisk used physical force against the law student, grabbing her by the neck and clothing, including the scarf she was wearing on her head. “Physical force in response to the exercise of the right to dissent through speech is never acceptable, and it is especially outrageous when it is approved by a renowned academic and legal educator,” the NLG stated in a statement.

The organization stated that the student asserted her right to freedom of expression, under the First Amendment.

"The NLG expresses its full support for this brave law student who asserted her right to freedom of expression by choosing to speak truth to power in an event authorized by the school," he said.

In that sense, the NLG made it clear that "it is firmly against the genocide in Palestine and in support of the right of students to protest."

And, he said, a person's First Amendment rights can extend beyond traditional public forums to spaces that are limited or non-public forums. He further explained that the suppression of expression by government agents in those spaces can violate the rights of the speaker. 

?The biggest victims of the suppression of free speech today on American campuses and in workplaces across the country are those who refuse to be complicit in the genocide and stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine, not Who supports their oppressors? He pointed out.

For his part, the dean and professor of Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky, wrote a statement in which he noted that, last week, ?there was a horrible poster, on social media and on bulletin boards in the law school building, of a caricature of me holding a bloody knife and fork, with the words in large letters: "Do not dine with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves."

Berkeley Law School Dean and Professor Erwin Chemerinsky wrote a statement noting that last week, ?there was a horrible poster, on social media and on bulletin boards in the law school building. right, of a cartoon of me holding a bloody knife and fork, with the words in large letters: "Don't dine with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves."

?I never thought I would see such blatant anti-Semitism, with an image that invokes the horrible anti-Semitic trope (tendency) of the blood libel (judgment) and that attacks me for no apparent reason other than that I am Jewish. Although many complained to me about the signs and how they were deeply offended, I felt that, although deeply offensive, they were speech protected by the First Amendment. But did it bother me that members of our community had to see this disturbing and anti-Semitic sign at the law school?

He explained that the students responsible for the poster made the student government leaders tell him that if they did not cancel the dinners, they would protest against them. 

?I was sad to hear this, but I made it clear that we would not be intimidated and that the dinners would continue for those who wanted to attend. I said I assumed any protest wouldn't be disruptive?

The dean said that on April 9, about 60 students came to his house for dinner, all registering in advance. 

?Everyone came into our backyard and sat at the tables to eat dinner. As the guests ate, a woman stood up with a microphone, stood on the top step of the courtyard and began a speech, including about the plight of the Palestinians. My wife and I immediately approached her and asked her to stop and leave. The woman continued. When he continued, there was an attempt to take the microphone away from him. We repeatedly told you that you are a guest in our house, please stop and leave. "About 10 students were clearly with her and they finally left as a group," he said.

?I have spent my career staunchly defending freedom of expression. I have spent my years as a dean striving to create a warm and inclusive community. “I am deeply saddened by these events and take comfort that only a small number of our students would behave in such a clearly inappropriate manner,” he concluded.

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the nation's largest Islamic civil rights and advocacy organization, condemned the alleged assault of student Malak Afaneh.

?Fisk's attack was a symbol of the deeper Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism and religious discrimination prevalent within the UC administration. They attacked me not only for speaking about Palestine but also because I was a Muslim woman who dared to wear a hijab and a keffiyeh and speak in my native language, Arabic, equating my identity with something to be feared and someone who deserved to be silenced. ”Afaneh said.

According to CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, UC Berkeley students have reported being attacked and harassed for their advocacy for Palestine for many months, not only by their peers but also by professors and administrators. . 

"Unfortunately, Dean Chemerinsky has for too long perpetuated an atmosphere of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism," he noted.

He added that "it is disturbing to see his and Professor Fisk's violent response to a student who speaks out against the Israeli genocide in Palestine." Is it reprehensible that UC Berkeley claims to defend free speech while its leaders commit such deplorable acts of physical censorship?

This publication was supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the CaliFornia State Library.

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Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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