U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights opens investigation into UCLA following MPAC complaint

May 9, 2024 Statements

Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | May 9, 2024 — The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took action on May 3rd by sending a letter to the Education Secretary Cardona and Assistant Secretary Lhamon at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (ED), calling for an investigation into the alarming attacks on pro-Palestinian student protestors at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) by external pro-Zionist agitators. Following this, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights initiated an official investigation into the incident under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

The unprecedented attack on UCLA’s pro-Palestinian encampment by pro-Zionist instigators and contractors linked to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), who violently targeted students peacefully raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis and ongoing genocide in Gaza, was utterly abhorrent. 

The apparent dereliction of responsibility by UCLA in failing to protect the physical safety and First Amendment rights of peaceful student protestors who faced injuries from physical attacks and aggression is reprehensible and the University’s administration needs to be held accountable. 

MPAC has also called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately investigate the LAPD’s handling of the UCLA protest, and we eagerly await a response. The selective use of police brutality as a means to suppress students exercising their rights to protest and free speech not only reinforces the negative perception that our law enforcement and government prioritize the protection of pro-Israeli voices over the inclusion of pro-Palestinian voices but also sends a clear message that challenging the status quo will be met with intimidation and fear. This disparity in treatment highlights a troubling bias that undermines the principles of justice and equality.

It is important to recognize that students possess a fundamental right to participate in peaceful protests, which has been a long tradition on campuses for decades. They have the freedom to think critically and have the right to hold the U.S. government accountable as an act of patriotism when they believe that their government is not upholding its fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and democratic values. 

MPAC will remain steadfast in supporting student protestors who are advocating for human rights, including those fighting for Palestinian freedom from Israel and calling for university divestment from Israel. We will continue to call out those who dangerously equate Zionism with anti-Semitism and deliberately brand pro-Palestinian student protestors as supporters of terrorism in an attempt to portray their activism as a threat to national security. 

MPAC remains committed to monitoring the UCLA incident and other incidents taking place on college and university campuses nationwide. We will continue to demand accountability from local and federal authorities to uphold and protect students’ rights to Freedom of Speech and Assembly.

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