Over the weekend, a display by the College Republicans at Dartmouth College to honor police for National Police Week with the slogan “Blue Lives Matter” was ripped down and replaced by Black Lives Matters posters, according to thedartmouth.com.
“It was taken down by students and replaced because it actively co-opted a movement that is supposed to comment on police brutality against black individuals in this country,” a student told the school newspaper. “It took that and by framing that as ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ it normalizes and naturalizes violence against people of color in this country. And that is not okay. That is in no way okay.”
The College Republicans were quick to react, saying the vandalism violated their free speech rights:
We are dismayed that a group of students would attempt to censor our message while coopting the space for their own purpose. We had hoped to bring attention to law enforcement officers and theirs efforts and hard work in keeping communities safe. In particular, we had hoped to honor all the law enforcement officers who have given their lives in service to their communities.
A similar incident occurred earlier this year. However, at that time, Black Lives T-shirts were removed from a display. In a statement released over the weekend, the administration said any student involved in the most recent removal of the police display could face disciplinary punishment. The statement said:
Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the Dartmouth community. By its very nature, the exercise of free speech will include views with which some of us disagree or which we find hurtful. The unauthorized removal on Friday of a student display for National Police Week in the Collis Center was unacceptable violation of freedom of expression on our campus. Vandalism represents a silencing of free exchange rather than open engagement.
By Monday morning, the school newspaper reports that faculty removed the Black Lives Matters posters to allow for the College Republicans to repost their display.
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