Two University of Connecticut students arrested for shouting a racial offense outside a campus apartment complex sued the school
DAVE COLLINS Associated Press
January 14, 2020 at 8:21 pm
3 min reading
HARTFORD, Connecticut –
Two University of Connecticut students arrested for shouting a racial offense outside a campus apartment complex sued the school on Tuesday, citing free speech rights as they fight authorities' attempts to remove them. from school.
Jarred Karal of Plainville and Ryan Mucaj of Granby, both 21, filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeing undisclosed damages and an interruption in disciplinary proceedings against them.
The two students say the school is violating their First Amendment rights, bringing disciplinary hearings that included a recommendation to remove them from student housing for violating a "disturbing behavior" policy. The lawsuit is still pending.
They also claim that school officials are violating the terms of a 1990 federal decree issued in another UConn student free speech case that prevents the school from imposing policies that interfere with First Amendment rights when the speech does not involve violence or threat of violence. .
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school does not comment on pending disputes.
Student attorney Mario Cerame also declined to comment.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that defends the rights of college students and teachers, agrees with the process, saying that public institutions cannot punish protected speech.
"As the Supreme Court has long explained, & # 39; the State has no right to purify public debate to the point of being grammatically palatable to the most sensitive among us & # 39; – penalizing the use of specific words addressed to no one. in particular, "the group said in a statement.
Police said Karal and Mucaj said the racial scandal several times while walking with a third student through the parking lot of UConn's Charter Oak Apartments complex on October 11. Karal and Mucaj are white. The third student was not charged.
It was videotaped by a black student and led to protests against racism on campus. Advocates of free speech said that while the offense is offensive, pronouncing it is not criminal.
Karal told police the group was playing a game in which they shouted an offensive word, according to an arrest warrant statement. The first person who refuses to say the word loses, he said. They decided to change the game to shout the racial epithet, he said.
Karal and Mucaj were accused of ridicule because of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race, a misdemeanor. Karal received a probation program that could result in the dismissal of the prosecution. The case against Mucaj is pending.