Convicted terrorist speaks at UMass—Amherst
November 16, 2009
Despite the cancellation of the initial talk, a convicted terrorist is being allowed to speak at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst. The talk was rescheduled on account of the university’s anti-censorship policy.
Raymond Luc Levasseur, the leader of the since-disbanded United Freedom Front, was scheduled to speak to students Tuesday, but the event had been cancelled at the time due to a large amount of public outcry.
Levasseur led the UFF in over 20 bombings and nine bank robbieries during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The organization, which considered itself an American Marxist organization, was also responsible for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper and the attempted murders of two Massachusetts state troopers.
“He shouldn’t be allowed to talk to any students,” Rick Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said to FoxNews.com. “Why give this man any credibility to speak in an academic environment? He has no remorse and who knows if he’s out to recruit. UMass should be ashamed of themselves for even inviting this man on campus.”
Levasseur was incarcerated for 18 years until his 2004 release from prison.
“We’ll be out there to show our displeasure,” Brown said to FoxNews.com. “I’m disgusted by the fact that UMass would even consider doing this. We don’t think it’s appropriate.”
The discussion was part of the University of Massachusetts—Amherst Libraries’s fifth annual Colloquium on Social Change. It was scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10, but was later cancelled due to strong opposition from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.
“Governor Patrick is outraged and extremely disappointed at reports that the University of Massachusetts has again extended a speaking invitation to Raymond Luc Levasseur,” a statement issued by Patrick’s office said. “When the Governor first learned of his scheduled appearance last week, his administration contacted the university to express serious concerns, and the appearance was swiftly and appropriately cancelled.”
Due to the university’s anti-censorship policies and its adherence to the idea of academic freedom, the university allowed Levasseur’s talk to be rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12 despite the opposition.
“The university administration did not invite this speaker and would not invite him. A group of faculty members has decided to invite him,” a Nov. 11 statement released by school administrators said. “As repugnant as we find this invitation, the administration’s commitment to academic freedom must be honored.”