Brown University – The First Amendment – CCR Docket 1985-1986

In December 1984, 68 Brown University students were tried by a faculty committee for attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of two CIA recruiters. While the CIA officials were lec­turing, students stood up and read an indictment charging the CIA with crimes in Central America and elsewhere. At no time did the students physically touch the officials but requested Brown security guards to make the arrest. The legal basis for the criminal charge was that the CIA violated the Neutrality Act-the students based the indictment on the CCR’s work.

The students requested the Center’s help at their trial. While students acted as their own counsel, Center attorneys gave legal support and testified . We told how the CIA was violating United States criminal laws, and we described how Rhode Island law included the right to make a citizen’s arrest. Former CIA agent John Stockwell presented troubling testimony about CIA atrocities throughout the world.

Over 600 students attended the hearing, and a large major­ity supported the activists, who were found not guilty of the most serious charges. The activists did receive a notation on their records for disrupting a school function.

Michael Ratner