In 2016 racial slurs were repeatedly spray-painted on Eastern Michigan University buildings and dorms, including statements promoting the KKK and calls for black students to leave the university. In the best American tradition, students of color and allies began to organize and demonstrate in a peaceful manner. 

One of the protests involved an evening sit-in in the student center, where the students chanted for a short period and then settled in to do homework and talk. When the student center closed, half the students left at the request of the campus police and the others stayed until morning without incident and then left. 

In response to this harmless protest against hate and intolerance, EMU singled out four African American students who helped organize the sit-in for expulsion proceedings. In November 2016, the ACLU of Michigan wrote a letter and engaged in other advocacy on behalf of the students. In February 2017, the university president agreed to drop the charges. 

(ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg and Mark Fancher.)

Date filed


Defending liberty