Two members of the activist group Refuse Fascism were arrested for unlawful entry by the Georgetown University Police Department while demonstrating in Red Square on Jan. 27.
Two activists, Luna Hernandez and Bo Login, entered Georgetown University’s campus alongside fellow members of Refuse Fascism, an organization that advocates for the removal of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence through nonviolent protest. Hernandez and Login were passing out flyers and speaking to students midafternoon Tuesday about the ongoing presidential impeachment trial and an upcoming related protest.
GUPD officers asked the pair to stop distributing flyers on campus, so they decided to relocate to Red Square, which they heard was a free speech zone, to talk to students about their upcoming event without handing out flyers, according to Hernandez.
GUPD officers arrived in Red Square and instructed the pair to leave. After the two activists refused to leave, officers handcuffed Login. He then began shouting, drawing passing students’ attention, according to video taken by The Hoya.
“Your police came and attacked us and threw us on these benches,” Login said, according to video taken by The Hoya. “We came on this university and we were having casual conversations with people about getting organized and driving out the Trump-Pence regime this Wednesday at the Capitol and your police came and arrested us.”
After restraining and handcuffing Login, the authorities pushed and arrested Hernandez, she said.
“They whipped me around, they knocked me to the ground, they pushed me to the ground, and I started yelling in pain, because it was painful, because he started putting his knee in my back, and another police officer came on top of me,” Hernandez said in an interview with The Hoya. “I was like, ‘You’re hurting me! You’re hurting me!’ I was trying to get up, and even when I was trying to get up they yanked me off the ground and they hurt my arm even more.”
Once Login and Hernandez were removed from Red Square, Hernadez then told GUPD officers that she could not feel her hand because the handcuffs were cutting off circulation to her hand, she said in an interview with The Hoya. The officers loosened the handcuffs and then took her and Login into custody where they were held for about three hours, according to Hernandez.
Any member from the Georgetown community may protest as long as the speaker’s and listeners’ rights to free speech are not violated, according to a university spokesperson. Non-Georgetown affiliated visitors that have not been invited to protest, however, are not allowed to do so on Georgetown property.
“In this instance, as non-students, the protestors were informed that they could continue to protest outside of the front gates or elsewhere off-campus,” the spokesperson wrotesaid in an email to The Hoya. “When they refused, they were removed from campus by GUPD and arrested for unlawful entry.”
The GUPD crime log writes that an unauthorized protester was located in Red Square at 3:24 p.m. after they had been previously escorted off campus, with the case closing in arrest. The log separately lists that an authorized protestor was located in Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall at 3:24 p.m. after they had been previously escorted off campus, with the subjects being barred from campus.
GUPD has not responded to The Hoya’s request for comment at the time of print.
Although the GUPD crime log says that Hernandez and Login were escorted off campus before their arrest, Raphael Kadaris, a representative from the D.C. team of Refuse Fascism, said that they were never instructed to leave before their arrest.
“They were not protesting, they were inviting students to a protest this Wednesday at the Capitol,” Kadaris wrote in an email to The Hoya. “They were never actually told they had to leave before they were arrested. They had been told they couldn’t pass out flyers, which they stopped doing.”
The incident was unsettling to watch, according to Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), a Georgetown University Student Association Senator who witnessed the event.
“I saw a police officer grab her wrist, then she yelled and was pushed to the ground. She was recording the arrest of the other protestor,” Rassieur wrote in an email to The Hoya.
People and groups not affiliated with the university are barred from flyering on campus, according to the university’s Speech and Expression Policy. Only members of the academic community are allowed to hang posters or hand out handbills or pamphlets, the policy reads.
Open discourse is authorized in specific locations on campus, including Red Square, according to the policy. The policy does not specify if people outside the Georgetown community are welcome in those spaced without an invitation those spaces.
“Certain areas of campus shall be considered ‘public squares’ and shall be available, without prior arrangement, for individuals and groups during daylight hours for the purpose of exchanging ideas,” the policy reads.
Login and Hernandez were arrested despite complying with university policy, according to a Refuse Fascism twitter thread chronicling the events of Jan. 27.
“@Georgetown’s core mission states it is a ‘university with a heart’ dedicated to ‘social justice’ and ‘restless inquiry,’” the tweet said. “Yet they brutally arrested activists engaged in nonviolent speech, simply inviting students to protest a white supremacist, fascist regime?”
Despite the previous day’s events, members of Refuse Fascism, including Hernandez and Login, returned to campus Jan. 28. Hernandez said Georgetown should apologize to her and Login and provide the pair a chance to speak about their experience.
“I think the university should give us an apology,” Hernandez said. “That was unacceptable, that they violently arrested us, I think that there should be students and professors inviting us to their classes to talk about what actually happened.”