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Brown drops charges against 20 Jewish students arrested in sit-in

President Christina Paxson cites 鈥榯ensions on campus鈥 as factor in decision

The 20 students were originally arrested after a sit-in at University Hall on Nov. 8.

Courtesy of Jews for Ceasefire Now
The 20 students were originally arrested after a sit-in at University Hall on Nov. 8. Courtesy of Jews for Ceasefire Now

The University requested Monday that Providence鈥檚 City Solicitor鈥檚 Office dismiss the charges against the 20 Jewish students who were after staging a sit-in at University Hall earlier this month, President Christina Paxson P鈥19 P鈥橫D鈥20 told The Herald. The city has agreed to drop the charges, according to the University.

The students, who are members of BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now,聽were set to be arraigned Tuesday morning on charges of willful trespass. They will still face the University鈥檚 disciplinary process, Paxson said. The students have been made aware that the charges have been dropped and that they are not expected to appear in court tomorrow, according to a University statement.

"While we are relieved our peers are no longer risking criminal charges, this is far from the end of our fight," JFCN organizers said in a statement.

The decision to drop the charges followed the shooting of three Palestinian college students, including Hisham Awartani '25, in Vermont Saturday evening.聽All three students are in stable condition, The Herald previously reported.

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鈥淢y hope is it will help refocus attention on issues that are important to us as a community鈥 instead of being 鈥渄istracted by other things that are divisive,鈥 Paxson said.

JCFN Organizers wrote that they "reject that our fight for divestment and ceasefire is a distraction from the issues that are important to this community. Our struggle is entwined with the Palestinian struggle for liberation: to divest is to protect Palestinian students."

The 20 arrested students refused to voluntarily leave University Hall on Nov. 8 until Paxson agreed to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and commit to divesting the University鈥檚 endowment from 鈥渃ompanies that enable war crimes in Gaza,鈥 The Herald previously reported.

"Neither our sit-in demands nor the demands of SJP and PSC have been met,"聽JFCN's statement continues. "Our university has remained steadfast in its refusal to heed the most simple call from the students it claims to represent: to divest from companies profiting from the genocide in Gaza."

Paxson noted that the decision was made based on current circumstances on campus and that the University does not consider the decision a precedent. 鈥淚 do want to stress that University Hall does not have 24-hour access, and we take trespass seriously and we will continue to do that in the future,鈥 Paxson said.

Paxson described the choice to drop the charges as a move in hopes of getting "the campus to focus on things that are important to us right now," referencing Saturday's shooting involving Awartani.

"We are devastated and outraged at the hateful shooting of our Palestinian friend and classmate, Hisham Awartani," reads the JFCN statement.聽"This violence so close to home emphasizes once more how important it is that Brown commits to protecting its Palestinian and Arab students in this moment of rising Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian hatred 鈥 not with empty words, but with divestment and calls for ceasefire."

鈥淭he vicious attack against one of our students over the weekend is reverberating across campus,鈥 a University statement read. 鈥淚t has shaken some of our community members deeply, while others are struggling to process what this means, not only for our campus, but for this country and world that we all live in. There is so much confusion, fear and anger being felt right now that we feel this is a time to bring our community together and try to set aside issues that are exacerbating tensions and division on our campus.鈥

Following the Nov. 8 arrests, several student organizations on campus and hundreds of faculty members called upon the University to drop the charges against the arrested students. Alumni also criticized the University for the arrests, stating they set 鈥渁 dangerous precedent and go against Brown鈥檚 long-held tradition of campus activism,鈥 The Herald previously reported.

鈥淲e want to reduce tensions on campus, and certainly the attack on the students has helped to elevate tensions,鈥 Paxson said.

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In a campus-wide shared Sunday evening about the Vermont shooting, Paxson invited community members to attend a vigil Monday afternoon. Organized by the University Chaplain鈥檚 Office, the vigil aimed to 鈥渂ring our community together during this difficult time,鈥 according to the message.

鈥淒ismissing the charges against the students certainly won鈥檛 heal the rising tensions on campus from the ongoing violence in the Middle East 鈥 or the hurt and fear from Islamophobia, antisemitism and acts of anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian violence,鈥 the University鈥檚 statement reads.

鈥淲e really need to recenter ourselves as a community in being kind and respectful to each other,鈥 Paxson told The Herald. 鈥淚 hope that the vigil will help us move in that direction.鈥

"We will not forget the arrests or the way the University continues to fail to keep its students 鈥 especially its most vulnerable students 鈥 safe," JFCN organizers wrote. "The dropping of charges cannot be a distraction from the broader struggle for Palestinian liberation we join in."

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Last updated on Nov. 28 at 1:01 a.m.

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Sam Levine

Sam Levine is a University 国产偷拍 editor from Brooklyn, New York overseeing the staff and student labor and on-campus activism beats. He is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs.



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