Minnesota college president offers to bail out students arrested protesting

A liberal arts college president in Minnesota wants to cover fines and bail for her students arrested during protests.

Macalester College president Suzanne Rivera told the Pioneer Press she began offering to cover fines during Black Lives Matters protests in June because “freedom of speech is not a privilege only our wealthy students should enjoy.”

“I would defend free speech for our conservative students as vigorously as for our liberal students,” Rivera told the paper.

The recently hired college president reiterated the offer Thursday amid protests over the 2020 presidential election count.

“Any currently enrolled student who participates in civil disobedience and needs help with bail or a fine they cannot afford can seek reimbursement by emailing me,” she posted on Twitter.

Macalester College is located in St. Paul, Minn. — a stone’s throw from Minneapolis, where police arrested more than 600 anti-President Trump protesters on Interstate 94 on Wednesday.

In a letter Thursday to students and faculty, Rivera said her offer attempted to address an “equity issue” — because some students cannot afford fines incurred “due to civil disobedience citations.”

“Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in the U.S., and the rights to assembly and free speech are protected in the Constitution,” she wrote.

“If any students cannot afford the fines for peaceful protest then I would be willing to reimburse them because freedom of speech is not a privilege only our wealthy students should enjoy.”

Her office has already received angry calls and emails opposing the decision, along with “a threat of violence,” the Star Tribune said.

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