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University cancels activist lecture after pressure from pro-Israel students

Butler University in Indianapolis has cancelled a scheduled event featuring iconic political activist Angela Davis this week after pressure from pro-Israel students.

The activist and author was scheduled to speak at an event called “Joint Struggle and Collective Liberation” on April 1st.

However, on March 29, the university administration cancelled the event without even notifying the organizers of the event.

According to the university, the cancellation was due to procedural errors. However, campus and community organisations issued a joint statement saying that Davis was targeted over her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

“Days before Butler University’s shameless censorship of Dr Angela Davis, the Student Government Association was bombarded by pressure from Zionist students who claimed to oppose the event because of her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a grassroots demand for nonviolent economic pressure against Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine,” explained the organisations in the statement.

The statement added that this was not the first time that pro-Israel students have tried to “silence free speech and prevent political events on campus.”

“We have, regrettably, seen other attempts to deplatform prominent Black activists. Simply put, Butler and others try to silence marginalized voices in order to maintain systems of power and privilege,” the statement continued.

“This is not the first time that Zionists have attempted to deplatform Angela Davis for her supportive stance on Palestine. Whether it be the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Northeastern University, or Butler University, institutions which silence the voices of Black radicals such as Davis are complicit, or worse, in the systems of racism and oppression which hurt BIPOC people within and beyond Butler University.”

The organization also demanded that the Butler administration “formally apologize to Dr. Angela Davis and immediately reinstate and affirm their support of the event.”

It’s worth mentioning that in 2019, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute rescinded a human rights award that it planned to give Davis.

Davis said at that time in a statement, that the award had been revoked over her longtime support for Palestine.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the decision had been made after “protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.”

“Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism,” read Davis’s statement.

“It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

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