Racial Justice Group Calls Upon Princeton U President to Drop Charges Against Student Protesters

Press Release

Princeton U protest against Gaza genocide
Princeton U protest against Gaza genocide.

By People’s Organization for Progress

MAY 8, 2024

The People’s Organization For Progress (POP) called upon the president of Princeton University today to drop charges against students who were arrested recently while participating in protests against Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza.

In an email to Christopher L. Eisgruber, President, Princeton University the group condemned the arrests of the students who were protesting the war and calling upon Princeton to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

“During the past fifty years there have been many social protests at Princeton. However, I do not believe that students have ever been arrested for their participation in those activities,” Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization For Progress stated.

Hamm said that he was speaking not only as a representative of POP but also as a Princeton alumnus. POP is a grassroots organization working for racial, social and economic justice that he founded several years after graduating from Princeton in 1978.

“The recent arrests of these students was an overreaction, disproportionate, and unnecessary. This can only have a chilling effect on the free speech rights of students on campus,” Hamm said.

“The repression of student protest in this manner damages the image and reputation of the university,” he said.

“Furthermore, the People’s Organization For Progress calls upon you as president of the university to grant total amnesty to all students and any faculty that have been penalized in any way for their participation in these protests,” he said.

“If any students are in jail we demand that they be released. We demand all charges be dropped, and all suspensions, bans, evictions and other disciplinary measures be lifted. We demand that all students and any faculty that have been dismissed or expelled be reinstated,” he said.

Hamm said that POP supports the students that have been protesting for a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment, including those students that have been on a hunger strike for nearly a week. He said that they have been fighting for a just cause.

“The students at Princeton are demanding disclosure, divestment, and a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel.  We support their demands. Rather than arresting students I urge you to negotiate seriously with them and attempt to meet their demands,” Hamm said.

In the email he also discussed his own experience as a student at Princeton protesting against white minority rule in apartheid South Africa and demanding that Princeton divest from companies doing business with the racist regime.

“In 1978, there were daily protests which lasted sixty-six days. This culminated in more than 210 students, including myself, having a peaceful sit-in at Nassau Hall. Afterwards the university divested from several companies doing business with South Africa,” he said.

“During our entire campaign no outside police were brought on campus. No one was arrested, fired or expelled from school. All of the students who participated in the sit-in graduated,” he said

“Looking back on what happened at Princeton then and what has happened today it appears that there is less tolerance for free speech, freedom of assembly and protest now than there was nearly a half-century ago,” he said.

Hamm said that he was willing to meet with president Eisgruber to discuss the matter further.

For more information contact Lawrence Hamm, People’s Organizations For Progress at (973)801-0001.

PO BOX 22505
NEWARK, NJ 07101
973 801-0001

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