Despite the fact that protestors were barred from attending Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "free speech" lecture on Tuesday—an irony no one missed—dozens of dissenting Georgetown University students and faculty made their presence known by taking a knee outside of the campus law center and hoisting signs that read "we were uninvited" and "Sessions is afraid of questions."
Georgetown Law faculty arrives to take a knee in protest of Sessions' appearance on campus. pic.twitter.com/aOEaUgAQAJ— Will Racke (@hwillracke) September 26, 2017
Ahead of Sessions' lecture, a group of 30 Georgetown law professors signed a letter calling the Trump-appointed attorney general a "poor choice to speak about free speech on campuses," given that "Sessions is a key cabinet member in an administration headed by a president who spent last weekend denouncing athletes engaging in free expression and calling for them to be fired."
"To invite somebody who purports to be an authority on free speech who so profoundly misunderstands the theories and law of free speech in our country…is laughable."
—Heidi Li Feldman, Georgetown law professor
Highlighting the fact that the Justice Department is currently prosecuting a woman for laughing during Sessions' confirmation hearing, the professors argued that "[t]his kind of government chilling of speech is precisely what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is meant to prevent."
During his lecture—heard by an invite-only crowd pre-selected to "ensure a sympathetic audience"—Sessions defended President Donald Trump's attacks on NFL players protesting police brutality and racial inequities, saying: "The president has free speech rights too."
Sessions went on to note that the protesting "players aren't subject to any prosecution, but if they take a provocative act, they can expect to be condemned," adding that he, like Trump, "would condemn their actions."
Meanwhile, outside the lecture hall, protestors condemned Sessions as a "snowflake" for effectively carving out a "safe space" for himself by not allowing dissenters to attend the lecture.
"An opportunity to express our freedom of speech today was taken from us," on speaker told those gathered outside of the Georgetown auditorium. "So we're taking it back."
Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown law professor who told the Washington Post she was denied permission to attend Sessions' lecture, said that "[h]olding an event that creates a safe space for the attorney general—and such a safe space that you don't even invite people who commit to not disrupt the event while it's ongoing—demonstrates a certain amount of hypocrisy."
"To invite somebody who purports to be an authority on free speech who so profoundly misunderstands the theories and law of free speech in our country…is laughable," Feldman concluded.
Watch video from the protests: