On Nov. 13, 2023, members of the Brandeis community left their classes and other commitments to gather on the Great Lawn in response to the arrest of seven members of the protest that occured on Friday, Nov. 10. Close to 100 people silently kneeled and sat on the Great Lawn, carrying blank papers as part of a “Blank Paper Protest” which @deisvspoliceviolence, an Instagram account dedicated to posting information about the walkout on Nov. 13, stated “was popularized during movements against free speech restrictions in China.” According to this account, the protest was “a demonstration of the student body’s commitment to the pursuit of Justice and Truth—even unto their innermost parts.”
The explanation of a blank paper protest was provided both on the @deisvspoliceviolence page and on sheets of paper passed out to attendees, which also detailed the events leading up to this protest. Among the sheets of blank paper, a few had messages written on them, including “I’d say how I feel but Ron won’t let me,” “Silence but not silenced” and “This is not reasonable force.” In a crowd that consisted of students, faculty and administrators, many protestors silently knelt on the grass, with about 30 protestors standing along the walkway behind the Great Lawn, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:59 p.m., when protesters quietly rose, signaling the end of the walkout. In an Instagram post from the Instagram account @deisvspoliceviolence, it was stated that participants in the walkout were not to “engage with police or press.”
According to the Instagram page, the demands for the walkout included “an apology for Brandeis Police’s violence towards peaceful protestors … as well as the calling in of non-Brandeis affiliated police forces to promote violence against students,” “that all charges placed on the seven people arrested on Friday be dropped immediately,” that “Brandeis stop construing language as hate speech when it is not” and more.
Local news helicopters circled above the Great Lawn near the beginning of the silent protest, and stray helicopter sounds could be heard later on, as well. There was no visual police presence, though students told The Hoot that there were likely undercover police officers present. Behind the main group on the Great Lawn, a small group of people carried a sign that read “Down With Colonialism,” over a Palestinian flag.
Near the end of the event, there was a brief altercation between two students from the protesting group and a student carrying an Israel flag, sitting on the stone wall in front of the Shapiro Campus Center. The altercation, which never escalated past arguing, was quickly broken up, though.
The Hoot interviewed two of the students that were arrested at Friday’s protest and one more student who was involved in Friday’s events. Those interviews can be found in separate articles in this edition of The Hoot. The Hoot’s coverage of the vigil that preceded the protest, and the protest itself can also be found in separate articles.