Jewish man arrested at Kansas City library speech after asking “provocative” questions (another arrested for sticking up for him)

(The first question is the one that really did him in.)

from Boing Boing

Take care when asking provocative questions at Kansas City’s library events: you might end up in jail.

The executive director of Kansas City Libraries says he’s outraged by the charges against Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, a Jewish man grabbed by private security after asking the event’s speaker, former diplomat Dennis Ross, uninvited follow-up questions. Off-duty cops moved in to arrest Rothe-Kushel when he objected to the hands-on treatment—as well as a library staffer who had moved to intervene.

The Associated Press reports Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves as saying officers “acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions.”

Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the U.S. and Israel that amount to “state-sponsored terrorism.”

When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?” Rothe-Kushel asked.

When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, “Get your hands off of me right now!”

Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.

[read more here]

2 Responses

  1. This feels like a big deal to me. Private security was there to “keep the peace?” Looks like they were there solely to protect Mr. Ross from being asked questions that he didn’t want to be asked, as if free speech did not exist as a first amendment right in this country and as if the “rights” of this speaker (protected by the Jewish Community Foundation and the public police) supersede the rights of others. Trespassing at the public library for attending a public event? That charge should certainly be thrown out! And the police spokeswoman thinks that public police acted appropriately in assisting private security to arrest and manhandle a patron as well as to manhandle a library employee in the commission of his job in a public library where private security should not have even been allowed? What a mess! I hope the library and patrons make a huge deal out of this! I’d like to know whether the off-duty officers were invited to attend or possibly paid or otherwise induced by the Jewish Community Foundation to back-up the private security for this speaker.

    • the head of the library has stated, if we have gotten to the point where you can’t ask a question at a library without being arrested, libraries should be shut down.

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