SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 18, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Towson University

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 18, 2019, on-campus protests led to violence when a religious group confronted students at Towson University, chanting anti-minority slogans.

The protesters are from the Key of David Christian Center and have reportedly engaged in regular demonstrations on college campuses in Pennsylvania. The group arrived at Towson University bearing signs that said “Jesus or hellfire!” and shouted slogans targeting several groups including the LGBTI+ community, Muslims, and women.

Hundreds of students held a counterprotest in response to the group’s rhetoric. The students held banners in support of the targeted students, chanted “love is love,” played music and danced. One protester from the Key of David Christian Center reportedly punched a Towson student counterprotester, leading police to arrest the protester and separate the two groups of protesters from each other.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during campus demonstrations. Groups have the right to freedom of expression and assembly on campus, but those rights must be exercised in a manner consistent with university values, including non-violence and social responsibility. Violence during a campus demonstration not only poses a direct threat to the immediate victims, but also undermines institutional autonomy, academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and harm democratic society generally.