Dozens of Georgetown University students gathered Tuesday on the steps of McDonough Hall to protest a speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The students were joined by faculty members who initially took a knee and later linked arms.
They took turns speaking into a bullhorn, decrying Sessions, the process the university used to bring him to campus and posing questions they would have asked the attorney general had they been allowed into the event.
“We, the disinvited, find it extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions would lecture future attorneys about free speech on campus while excluding the wider student body,” third-year law student Ambur Smith said into the bullhorn.
Some of the roughly 100 protesters who gathered outside Georgetown’s law school wore duct tape over their mouths. They held signs that proclaimed, “DEPORT HATE,” FREE SPEECH IS NOT HATE SPEECH,” and “Sessions is afraid of questions.”
Georgetown law professor Heidi Li Feldman was one of about 40 faculty and staff members who joined students on the steps of McDonough Hall.
“A law school is a place for people to learn about the deepest principles that undergird our democratic republic. Those principles are trampled upon by Attorney General sessions, in particular, and Donald Trump,” she said. “You cannot invite people who so thoroughly threaten the basic premises of American law to a campus and not speak up if your mission in life is to educate people about the American legal system.”
Third-year law student Imani Waweru cited President Trump’s criticism of NFL players and other actions by the White House in asserting that the administration “has fallen short in a lot of areas about understanding what free speech entails.”
“We just firmly believe that this administration does not demonstrate that they have a full understanding of free speech,” Waweru said.
By 12:20 p.m., the crowd of demonstrators had thinned to about half its earlier size.
Inside the hall where Sessions spoke, a line of students sitting near the back stood up and placed black tape over their mouths as the attorney general concluded his address.
The attorney general’s address on free speech at the Georgetown’s Law Center sparked a variety of responses in advance from students and faculty members.