Following ACLU Action, George Mason University Will Not Press for Prosecution of Student Protester

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
October 20, 2005 12:00 am

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FAIRFAX, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia learned today that, following an investigation, George Mason University officials have determined that a student demonstrator who was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct should not be prosecuted in criminal court. The ACLU is representing the student, junior Tariq Khan, who was arrested Sept. 29 for protesting the presence of military recruiters on campus.

“”We are pleased to learn of this development,”” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis, “”and we hope that Fairfax County prosecutors will take this as a sign that they should drop the charges against this young man.””

“”This arrest should never have happened,”” Willis added. “”This was a quiet, orderly protest by one person exercising his rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment. We are deeply concerned that Mr. Khan may have been arrested simply because he is a Pakistani-American who dared to protest against military recruiters. It is as illegal to arrest people because of their nationality as it is to arrest them for their views on military recruiters.””

On the day of his arrest, Khan, a U.S. Air Force veteran, positioned himself several feet from a military recruiting table set up in the Johnson Center on the George Mason University campus. Khan wore an 8 ½-by-11 inch sign reading, “”Recruiters Tell Lies”” taped to his chest.

Despite harassment from fellow students, Khan remained quiet. When told by a University official that he needed a permit to “”table”” in the Johnson Center, Khan politely responded that he was not using a table, but merely standing quietly and expressing his opinion.

After refusing to move, Khan was handcuffed by campus police, dragged to a police vehicle, and transported to a Fairfax County police facility, where he was booked for trespass and disorderly conduct. He is scheduled to appear in court on November 14.

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