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City Council members urge Solicitor to drop charges against 41 arrested students

Three of 15 council members signed the letter, including Council President Rachel Miller

The letter was signed by Council President Rachel Miller, Majority Miguel Sanchez and Ward 4 Councilor Justin Roias. The Council has 15 members.
The letter was signed by Council President Rachel Miller, Majority Miguel Sanchez and Ward 4 Councilor Justin Roias. The Council has 15 members.

A letter by three City Council members — published Monday on Instagram and dated April 18 — urged the Solicitor's office to drop the charges against the 41 students arrested during a Dec. 11 sit-in at University Hall.

The letter was signed by Council President Rachel Miller, Majority Whip Miguel Sanchez and Councilman Justin Roia. The Council has 15 members. 

“As elected officials tasked with defending the rights of Providence residents as well as responsibly stewarding taxpayer dollars, we are reaching out with great concern regarding the 41 Brown University students who were arrested on December 11,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, signatories wrote the letter to “express dismay and disapproval” over the decision to press criminal charges. The decision to drop charges is “entirely within the legal authority of (the City Solicitor’s) office,” the letter states. 


“We are formally asking you to exercise your prosecutorial discretion and drop the charges against the arrested students,” it continues. “We ask for your partnership in prioritizing responsible use of taxpayer resources, rather than wasting them on punishing students for a victimless crime.”

A spokesperson from the University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It is unprecedented and inappropriate for elected officials to make requests of or demands on the handling of prosecutions,” Press Secretary Josh Estrella wrote in an email to The Herald. “This is particularly the case when the complainant, in this case Brown University, has not dropped the charges.”

Estrella clarified that the City’s law department has an attorney “responsible for handling misdemeanors in the court,” and thus the prosecution of the arrested students “would not incur any additional cost or use of city resources.”

Earlier today, Black Lives Matter R.I. PAC reaffirmed their support for the City Councilors’ letter in a tweet shared by the organization.

The 41 students were arrested following a Dec. 11 sit-in, calling on the University to divest from “companies which profit from human rights abuses in Palestine,” The Herald previously reported. The students were arraigned this February and have been placed on University probation following internal disciplinary proceedings. 

The letter’s release to the public coincides with the ongoing Main Green student encampment, which calls on Paxson to drop the charges against the 41 students, among other demands. 

Earlier this morning, Paxson wrote in a letter to protestors that she will not recommend the Solicitor’s Office to drop the charges, though she will let student leaders meet with Corporation members to discuss a potential divestment proposal.

The City Solicitor’s Office did not respond to The Herald’s request for comment at the time of publication.

“There is even more pressure now than ever to drop charges against the 41 students,” the Brown Divest Coalition said in a statement to The Herald, referring to the City Council’s statement. 


This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Story last updated April 29, 4:53 p.m.

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