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Students Arrested for Passing Out Pocket Constitutions on Michigan Community College Campus Sue School

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) members are fighting back after being charged with trespassing for handing out constitutions without permission.

Not a safe space for the constitution.Campus ReformTwo members of Young Americans for Liberty's (YAL) Kellogg Community College (KCC) chapter have filed suit against the Michigan school following their arrest on campus last September for passing out pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution without administrative permission.

Michelle Gregoire (a student at KCC) and Brandon Withers, along with KCC's YAL chapter are suing the school, its Board of Trustees, and several high-ranking administrators for violating the students' "clearly established constitutional rights" when they were charged with trespassing and jailed for seven hours (the charges which were dismissed 10 days later, according to Watchdog.org).

The plaintiffs claim the school violated their rights of freedom of speech, due process, and equal protection under the law, and as a public institution, KCC is bound by the First Amendment.

Before having campus police place them under arrest, school administrators insisted Gregoire and Withers were in violation of the school's solicitation policy because they had not received prior approval to recruit for their organization, which the students claimed they had repeatedly attempted to obtain through official channels to no avail.

Watch video of their arrest below, where Gregoire is warned to not return to campus without permission, even though she attends the school:

The lawsuit alleges, "By policy and practice, Kellogg Community College claims the unchecked right to prohibit students from engaging in practically any constitutionally protected expression anywhere on campus unless they first obtain permission from KCC officials," adding:

Thus, students may not speak spontaneously anywhere on campus. Furthermore, KCC maintains an unwritten speech zone policy limiting student expression to one location on campus. If students express themselves on campus without a permit or in any other location, KCC deems them to be violating the Code of Conduct for Students, which exposes them to a variety of sanctions, including expulsion. Through the permitting process, KCC retains unfettered discretion to determine both whether students may speak at all and where they may speak. In so doing, it fails to protect students against content and viewpoint discrimination. These policies and practices chill protected student speech and disable spontaneous student speech on campus.

Also according to the lawsuit, the school confines free speech activities to an information tables at the school's student center, which you guessed it, can only be used with the official permission of the administration.

KCC's Public Information Director shared this statement with Reason:

Kellogg Community College learned this week that an organization, the Alliance Defending Freedom, has announced it is filing a federal complaint against the College regarding a trespassing incident which occurred in September 2016. The complaint itself has yet to be delivered to KCC; therefore, the details of the complaint have yet to be reviewed by legal counsel. The College, which supports the U.S. Constitution and takes seriously any allegation that one's freedom of expression has been violated, will address this matter thoroughly.

On the advice of their attorneys, Gregoire and Withers declined to speak with Reason, but YAL President Cliff Maloney, Jr. said in a phone call his group has launched a national "Fight for Free Speech" campaign, which he describes as a "coordinated effort to tackle and defeat these so-called free speech zones and unconstitutional policies."

Maloney adds that these students did not expect to be arrested and that wasn't the purpose of their activity, saying "If [students] are facing pushback from tyrants on campus, we ask them to film it, to capture it, so we can document it," but YAL never aims to make free speech martyrs out of students. In this particular case, Maloney says he was struck by how calm the students were while being arrested in contrast to the administrator hectoring them as the handcuffs were being applied.

"Calmly and peacefully [the students] said, 'We're going to do this. It is our right to hand out the United States Constitution," Maloney says. "We don't set out to get people arrested, but to see the extremity of it, I think helps us shine a light on how crazy these bureaucrats have become."

Photo Credit: Campus Reform

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  • DJF||

    See what happens now Trump is President!!!!!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...when they were charged with trespassing and jailed for seven hours (the charges which were dismissed 10 days later, according to Watchdog.org).

    As usual, the process is the punishment. I know it might seem flaky, but those charges were never meant to stick. Administrators milking their authority for all its worth to keep the wrong kinds of students pacified, but all they are doing is making the relationship more frosty.

  • Some Chick from OH||

    Some enterprising group of students should design an experiment testing for any difference in official campus administrative response to passing out literature based on the literature's content. At the same time, one group passes out pocket constitutions in one highly public & busy area of campus while another group passes out literature of a more Leftist nature - say, The Communist Manifesto or The Anarchist's Cookbook (I'm open to better suggestions on both sides) in another well-traveled area of campus. Null hypothesis - "There is no difference between..." yadda and yadda. Should kill two birds: see if the bureaucrats are biased and earn academic credit.

  • DJF||

    They should hand out copies of Obama speeches.

    If they are stopped then they can accuse the administration of racism.

  • BigT||

    Passing out the Constitution is libel against the university, after all. No one expects them to follow it.

  • Bob Meyer||

    What next? Will KCC prohibit students from gathering in groups larger than three? Will the campus cops start tossing the homes of students looking for prohibited materials like the Constitution?

    These administrators act as if they were trained in Cuba to prevent "counter revolutionary" activity.

  • ||

    The text of the Constitution constitutes hate speech, considering the totality of circumstances.

  • Banquo||

    "students may not speak spontaneously anywhere on campus" - Administrative Hitlerbot [Model 3984A]

  • ||

    I'm guessing that this community college doesn't pay property taxes like most community colleges. In my mind, that makes it public property and there should be no way the can charge anyone with trespassing.

  • The Fusionist||

    "they were charged with trespassing and jailed for seven hours (the charges which were dismissed 10 days later, according to Watchdog.org)."

    Allow me to suggest a modest reform - if the prosecutor dismisses criminal charges, the arresting officer has, say, 30 days to file an ethics complaint against the prosecutor for letting a criminal get away with his crime. If the arresting officer *doesn't* file such a complaint, this will be an admission that the prosecutor acted properly in dismissing the charge. Therefore, if the arresting officer is sued for false arrest, he will have to to come up with a defense by which both the arrest and the subsequent dismissal of the charges were legitimate. So, for example, if a key witness went missing after the arrest, this would maybe be a good excuse. But If the prosecutor dismissed the charges simply because they were bogus, then the cop would lose the false-arrest case.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Students Arrested for Passing Out Pocket Constitutions on Michigan Community College Campus Sue School
    Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) members are fighting back after being charged with trespassing for handing out constitutions without permission.

    Hopefully these deranged miscreants will fell the full wrath of the law for distributing such a racist, misogynist, homophobic and antiquated document such as the US Constitution. I highly recommend a good flogging, say 30 lashes per person in a public setting to show the rest of the collective that distributing such nefarious ideas about freedom and limited government will punished harshly and quickly. These counter-revolutionaries must learn that giving people documents not approved by The State without permission has severe consequences. Therefore it is recommended that after their public flogging they, along with their families, be sent to the local gulag for further re-education for the convenience and benefit of The State.

  • sparkstable||

    So... I can't hand out the rules by which the state is bound because the state says I can't... which isn't in the rules.

    Got it.

    "Me fail logic? That's unpossible! "
    -The State

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