New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was supposed to give a lecture at Brown University today about his time at the helm of the NYPD. But instead of spending the hour talking about “Proactive Policing in America’s Biggest City,” as Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy billed the talk, he left the stage after 30 minutes due to what the university’s president described as “shouting, persistent interruption, and coordinated chants” from the crowd. In a short video of the debacle, members of the crowd mostly shouted back and forth with a Brown organizer while Kelly stood at a podium waiting to speak. “Racism is not for debate,” one yelled. And when the organizer asked the crowd to hold comments until the end of the program, another shouted, “We’re asking that you stop stopping and frisking people!”
Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, was not amused in the least. “The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront both to civil democratic society and to the University’s core values of dialog and the free exchange of views,” she said, according to the University’s statement on the cancellation. “Nothing is more antithetical to that value than preventing someone from speaking and other members of the community from hearing that speech and challenging it vigorously in a robust yet civil manner,” she continued in her letter.
There’s no word yet as to whether the university will reschedule the talk. Unlike David Petraeus at CUNY, Kelly is under no obligation to come back.