The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Florida's colleges and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over their ban on pro-Palestine student groups at universities.
Filed in U.S. District Court by the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, and Palestine Legal on behalf of the University of Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, the lawsuit seeks an injunction on a state order that blocked SJP from receiving school funds and using campus facilities.
DeSantis, alongside the state's university system, ordered Florida colleges last month to shut down SJP chapters, falsely accusing the peace activism group of being "part of a foreign terrorist movement." Brandeis University has also banned SJP indefinitely, and Columbia University and George Washington University have suspended the group.
“If Florida officials think silencing pro-Palestinian students protects the Jewish community — or anyone, they’re wrong. This attack on free speech is dangerous,” Howard Simon, interim executive director of ACLU of Florida, said in a statement, via NBC News.
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Officials banning the group have put forth no evidence that its chapters have ties to Hamas. The group has been accused of anti-Semitism for its opposition to Israel, including anti-Israel chants at protests.
SJP addresses accusations on its website, calling the claims a "highly problematic definition of anti-Semitism that attempts to conflate criticism of the Israeli government or Zionism with anti-Jewish racism. This is as dangerous as it is baseless."
"We believe the struggle for a free Palestine is also the struggle for Black liberation, gender and sexual freedom, and a livable and sustainable planet," they explain in their about page. "All pursuits for freedom, justice, and equality are materially connected and require us to struggle against state violence, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, in all of their forms."
Organizers stated that they worry the attacks on the group's character "will distract from the real threat of white supremacy faced by all our communities."
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