A Halloween night protest by Northwestern students demanding police abolition turned violent

A Halloween night protest by Northwestern students demanding police abolition turned violent

This protest/riot was organized by a Northwestern University group called NU Community Not Cops which issued a list of demands including that the school disband the campus police force. Saturday night a group of about 150 turned out and things quickly got out of hand with one police officer injured and 18 reports of vandalism in the town of Evanston:

Students shared a video with CBS 2 showing firecrackers used as a smaller group of students came face to face with Evanston police with backup from other local police departments.

Protesters have been marching in support of abolishing campus police that effort every day since Oct. 12, but students say a small group of demonstrators Saturday night turned more aggressive as they broke windows downtown, spray-painting buildings and launching those fireworks.

Evanston’s police chief says that is when officers moved in.

“”We allowed them to do a peaceful assembly and we would have let it ride until they turned to violence with bricks, battering some of our officers. They had shields,” said Evanston police Chief Demitrous Cook. “So after that it was time to send a message that we’re not going to let people just come in here and tear up the City of Evanston.”

A reporter for the student newspaper was on hand Saturday night. She reported that the goal from the start was to escalate protests that have been going on for weeks:

The goal, one protestor said, was to disrupt past the point of what the University would deem acceptable.

“The University has not responded to what they call a ‘respectable protest,’” one protestor and NUCNC member said. “Respectable protest is respectable so people can ignore it. The purpose of protest is to disrupt the normalcy of life.”

“We’re really here just to show them what sense of urgency we have,” they added. “And how serious we are about abolition.”

The same article is completely sympathetic to the protesters and frames them as victims of aggressive police, but here’s how the author describes what prompted police to use pepper spray:

According to several organizers in the back of the crowd, as police continued to follow the crowd east on Church Street, they eventually tried to go around the side of the group. In order to prevent the group from being surrounded, an organizer said, they started calling for protestors with bikes to block the sidewalk so officers could not pass…

Without enough bikes, when one protestor moved to the sidewalk and refused to move, she was immediately surrounded by several police, the organizers said.

Several protestors in the back row of the crowd attempted to intervene to prevent the arrest but were unsuccessful. The police shoved them back forcefully and unleashed pepper spray.

So, the protest organizers ordered people with bikes to get in the way of police. Police then surrounded one of these people trying to block them and arrested her. Protesters tried to intervene, i.e. they scuffled with police to prevent the arrest. Finally, police responded to these efforts to interfere with an arrest by using pepper spray and pushing people back. It’s clear that police were responding to the escalation by protesters.

Northwestern issued a statement condemning the destructive behavior:

As we have stated before, Northwestern strongly supports the free expression of ideas and vigorous debate, abiding principles that are fundamental to our University. Northwestern protects the right to protest, but we do not condone breaking the law. Should members of the Northwestern community be found in violation of University policies, state or federal laws, they will be held accountable through our processes.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Evanston sent the school’s president a letter saying, in part, that he expected the school to cover the cost of overtime for police and that protest organizers should be reminded that police officers, “also have families and their safety is as important as the safety of the protesters.”

Law professor Jonathan Turley published a piece today pointing out that Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro has a history of supporting woke extremism on campus, including endorsing safe spaces and trash-talking free speech advocates:

Schapiro never supported violence and correctly condemned the recent attacks on businesses and police. However, he has long been one of the most prominent advocates of protections from free speech rather than for free speech on campus. He is viewed by many as yielding to the rising intolerance on campus while treating the exercise free speech as potentially harmful to students.  This includes his advocacy of “safe zones” to protect students from the trauma and harm caused by dissenting views or opposing values.  Under his leadership, Northwestern has been given the lowest rating for the protection of free speech by groups like FIRE. While he later walked back calling free speech advocates “idiots” in a commencement speech, he remains one of most vocal voices against free speech protections.

You may recall that back in 2017 a professor at Northwestern invited a representative from ICE to come to her class to have a discussion on immigration policy. A group of woke students disrupted the class, forcing the professor to cancel it. At the time President Schapiro expressed his disappointment. Now, a few years later, it seems he’s really grown tired of the disruptions caused by woke students. The same group that broke windows and threw things at police Saturday night previous came to Schapiro’s home on at least two occasions. Two weeks ago, President Schapiro denounced the protesters in language that sounds like it could have been written by Tucker Carlson:

“I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the overstepping of the protesters,” Schapiro wrote. “They have no right to menace members of our academic and surrounding communities.”

Schapiro also referenced protesters who showed up outside of his house at least twice in the past week. On Saturday, demonstrators burned the “We’re N This Together” banner that previously hung on The Arch and left it in front of the president’s house near the officers who guarded it…

“If you haven’t yet gotten my point, I am disgusted by those who chose to disgrace this University in such a fashion,” Schapiro wrote. “To those protesters and their supporters who justify such actions, I ask you to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that this isn’t actually ‘speaking truth to power’ or furthering your cause,” Schapiro wrote. “It is an abomination and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

He’s absolutely right about the woke protesters but the question is what he’s willing to do about it. Will he make sure students damaging property and injuring police are suspended or expelled? Or will he talk tough and continue to let the far-left extremists walk all over him? That statement from the school I quoted above threatens consequences but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is going to follow through on it.

Needless to say, if some right wing student group had gone out and done this they would all have been expelled by now. But the extremists on the left never seem to face any real consequences, only empty threats.

Here’s a WGN report on the situation this weekend. And for the record, I have no idea why this reporter has a charming Irish accent.

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