Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

PSM Attendee Files $8 Million Suit

An attendee at February’s Palestine Solidarity Movement conference filed suit against Georgetown on Wednesday, saying that he sustained injuries when Department of Public Safety officers removed him from an event. Bill Maniaci, former deputy chairman of the Jewish Defense League, is suing for $8 million, stemming from charges of assault, false arrest and depriving his right to speech, as well as punitive damages. The suit names several Georgetown administrators as defendants, including David Morrell, vice president for university safety, and Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs. The JDL was one of several groups that opposed the conference, saying that the PSM is anti-Israel and supportive of terrorism. Many members of those groups attended the conference, and Georgetown designated space on Copley Lawn for activists to use. In a complaint filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Maniaci’s lawyer Thomas Fay said that Maniaci asked panelists at a conference event on Feb. 18 whether they supported suicide bombing as a tactic. After the panelists avoided the question, Maniaci repeated it. At that point, the complaint says, Olson ordered two DPS officers to remove Maniaci from the room. “The two campus police officers violently jerked Mr. Maniaci from his seat,” the document says. The officers, one of whom is identified as George Taylor, another defendant, then dragged Maniaci down the aisle and threw him out the door, Fay said, while university spokesman Erik Smulson, another defendant, refused to take action when bystanders objected to the treatment. “At this time none of the Georgetown University faculty, officials or campus police helped him,” the complaint says. Smulson declined comment, saying that the university does not speak about pending litigation. Morrell and Harrison also declined comment. Ziad Abu-Rish (GRD ’06), one of the conference organizers, said that Maniaci was removed from the conference after being repeatedly warned by a student and the DPS officers to cease his disruptions. Abu-Rish said that he did not recall the incident being as violent as the court papers suggest. “As he was dragged out he continued to . argue the point,” he said. “At no point did I feel that his physical abilities or disabilities were taken advantage of.” Abu-Rish also said that he did not remember any audience members being disturbed by the incident. “I recall support for his removal,” he said. aniaci was then detained near the Bunn Intercultural Center. The complaint alleges that DPS officers did not permit him to use the restroom, despite his having a medical condition that makes him frequently urinate. Morrell then told Maniaci that he was barred from the conference, and he was taken off campus by a Metropolitan Police Department officer. The complaint says that Maniaci, after blacking out, went to the hospital the next day and learned that he had sustained a concussion, right-ankle sprain, abrasions to the legs and contusions to the right abdomen, right arm and right wrist. Fay, who said that Maniaci approached him soon after the incident, said that the case would likely reach trial in about one year, although the timetable may vary. He said that, despite filing for $8 million, there is no target that he and Maniaci are hoping to receive. “The goal is whatever the jury comes back with,” he said. “We’d like to see this kind of thing not repeated in the future.”

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