Skip to main content
Police in riot gear facing protestors
Press Statement May 9, 2024

NAACP Reaffirms Support of Right to Protest, Condemns Excessive Police Presence on College Campuses

Police in riot gear facing protestors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 9, 2024

Contact: Alicia Mercedes, amercedes@naacpnet.org 

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, DC Metropolitan police entered the George Washington University campus to break down a student-led encampment. The raid, which resulted in mass arrests, also included reports of excessive force against GW students. The events at GW come on the heels of a wave of mass arrests that have taken place across the country in response to students exercising their right to free speech on more than 100 college campuses across the country. Historically, students, especially Black students, have utilized peaceful protest as means to galvanize movements and spark progressive change. 

Wisdom Cole, Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division shared his response in the following statement:

"Protest is the language of the people, used to fight against violence and build a healthy democracy. The sad reality is, police violence continues to threaten our progress. Let's be clear - state-sanctioned violence against college students is an atrocity, no matter where it's taking place. The NAACP is all too familiar with the price associated with protest. But we refuse to accept this as the norm. Our young people deserve the opportunity to exercise their educational knowledge in peaceful protest. 

We cannot encourage a generation to use their voice through their vote while simultaneously suppressing their freedom of speech. Inflicting violence on young demonstrators will not enhance their educational experience. Witnessing this violence will not strengthen the already fragile, and unstable relationship the American people have with law enforcement. Enough is enough. It is time for our leaders to come together in embracing the activism of our youth while investing in solutions to promote safety, not suppression. We can, and must do better."

Over the last week, there have been several reports of excessive police force in response to student activism. At Columbia University, there were reports of gunfire from the NYPD while they disassembled the encampment in Hamilton Hall. In Virginia, violent arrests took place on the campus of the University of Mary Washington, where several members of the NAACP Youth and College were detained and ultimately arraigned with legal support from the NAACP, a privilege most students across the nation do not have access to.

The NAACP strongly opposes violence from law enforcement on any issue and does not support the infringement of constitutional rights. At schools in states such as Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, and Mississippi, state leaders have justified the excessive police response of campuses with the recent wave of anti-protest legislation that was affirmed by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The NAACP calls on state leadership to uphold their sworn duty to protect the constitutional rights of citizens and hold law enforcement accountable for the use of excessive force and violence against students.

To learn more about the NAACP's position on the right to protest, visit our website.

###

About NAACP

The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

 

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

Six Months Until Election Day

From police reform to voting rights, and our democracy itself – everything is on the line. We need to raise $250,000 to support our work advocating, agitating, and litigating for civil rights across the nation. Donate today and your gift will be matched, doubling your impact.

Donate Now