April 26, 2024

Rep. Watson Coleman Statement on Campus Protests

Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) issued the following statement regarding anti-war protests on college campuses across the country and in New Jersey's 12th District.

“No matter your faith or background, the right to freely practice your religion and the right to protest unite us as Americans. Our Founding Fathers recognized that these rights were essential to a healthy democracy and placed both in the First Amendment. 

“Agitators who seek to co-opt the recent student-led protests for their own bigoted purposes have no place among these protests just as Antisemitism and Islamophobia have no place in our society. The harassment and targeting of students for their faith is a violation of those students’ constitutional rights and the social contract we hold dear. Be it Jewish students in New York being told to “go back to Poland,” students feeling uncomfortable wearing a kippah or hijab, the vandalism of the Rutgers Islamic Center on Eid al-Fitr, or the examples of discrimination laid out in charges leveled against Rutgers University by CAIR-NJ, I condemn such actions as both morally inexcusable and counter to progress. 

“I’m grateful that the vast majority of student protesters have been peaceful. I applaud them for standing up and fully engaging in our democratic process. The actions taken by college administrators and police against peaceful anti-war protesters are an affront to who we are as Americans. If universities are a place to learn and grow, learning one’s rights and responsibilities to be an active participant in civic life must be a part of that education. Arresting those peaceably expressing their viewpoints turns the lessons taught in the classroom into mere theoretical musings.

“My office is monitoring the situation at campuses in and around our district to ensure the rights of all students are protected.”