Students Were Giving Away Copies of Constitution in ‘Free Speech Zone.’ Then, Cop Confronted Them
A group of libertarian students distributing free copies of the U.S. Constitution during a free speech protest held in a “free speech zone” at Penn State University Friday were confronted by a police officer and told they needed to cease their activities and first obtain school approval.
Students with the group Young Americans for Liberty were confronted by an officer who first noticed they had erected a “free speech wall” where students were permitted to write or draw any message, college news website Campus Reform reported.
The exchange with the officer was captured on camera by a field representative for the non-profit Leadership Institute who was on campus helping assisting the students with their event.
“Can you put your phone away for me please?” the officer asked.
“Isn’t this a public campus though?” student Kevin Caputo countered.
“But I don’t want to be recorded. I have the civil right to not be recorded,” the officer claimed.
Caputo held firm, insisting the group had the right to record the officer.
“OK, but I’m just saying I wouldn’t like to be recorded,” the officer said.
The student group was then asked by the uniformed officer if they had been asked to cease their activities. Caputo replied that they had been, but said the group chose not to because of its belief it had the Constitutional right to protest on the public campus.
The officer informed the students that they first needed to obtain permission from the public university.
“So we have to get permission to protest?” Caputo asked.
“Correct,” the officer answered.
“In the free speech zones?” Caputo asked.
The students ultimately decided to comply with the officer.
Moments later, the officer discovered the students had also been handing out literature.
“Were you passing out things too?” she asked.
“We were. The Constitution,” Caupto replied.
“Cause that’s just the same thing, because we have a rule and regulation about handbills and passing out things, so that’s included in the permit as well,” the officer said.
According to Campus Reform, Penn State allows students to pass out literature as long as it is “distributed in person” from the sponsoring organization.