On Monday afternoon, conservative student journalists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign filed a suit against their school for allegedly infringing on their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
"Today three University of Illinois student-journalists filed a federal lawsuit against university officials and an instructor for violating their constitutional rights to free press, free speech, and due process," announced a press release from Mauck & Baker, LLC, the firm representing the students.
In November of last year, two of the students named as plaintiffs went to film an anti-Trump rally organized by the Black Rose Anarchist group on campus with intentions of reporting on the protest for Campus Reform, for which they are correspondents. But the "Love Trumps Hate" mantra fell flat, to put it mildly.
Joel Valdez was assaulted and had his phone smashed by an educator employed by the university, Mr. Tariq Khan. Blair Nelson, there recording the protest, was lunged at by Khan, which was perceived as a physical threat.
All of this was caught on video. (See below)
But the university's reaction is what's even more of concern than the outrageous incident. The teaching assistant involved in the matter apparently received no disciplinary action by the school. On the contrary, the students were seemingly targeted with restraining orders. According to the suit, such orders were doled out without so much as a notice or a hearing and were "effectively" used to "ban the Students from observing, reporting on or videoing Khan or his activities on campus."
"The restraining orders in this case were not used as a shield to protect student victims but as a sword to chill and suppress the Students’ expressive activities on campus," the complaint reads.
Senior Andrew Minik was also named as a co-plaintiff. He was not at the protest but reported on the matter for Campus Reform. He, too, was targeted by the school via a restraining order.
“I was told that if I wanted the ‘situation to improve’ that I should stop writing about Khan,” said Minik.
The students said the orders were used to, in effect, surveil them. The complaint highlights social media postings and comments from the students' personal accounts about the matter and Mr. Khan that the university took interest in.
“No student should be under school surveillance and discipline for reporting on violent anarchist groups on campus,” said Valdez.
The suit also claims the students were targeted by the university for their conservatives views. "The Students have been targeted with these restraining orders and Khan given a pass based on their respective viewpoints and political views," it reads.
The press release indicates that suit was filed in the Central District Court of Illinois and "seeks to vindicate the students’ constitutional rights as well as civil damages for Khan’s assault and destruction of Valdez’s cell phone."
“The First Amendment should not be a partisan issue or something only conservatives are willing to defend,” said Noel Sterett, legal counsel representing the students. "Nelson, Valdez, and Minik have had their education disrupted as a result of having to deal with these restraining orders and defend against these false charges," adds the release.
Valdez told The Daily Wire in a prepared statement that people of all political views should be standing up for free speech on campus.
"The First Amendment should not be a partisan issue or something only conservatives are willing to defend. College journalists must be free to report on the most extreme groups on campus. No student should be under school surveillance and discipline for reporting on violent anarchist groups on campus. Universities should protect the victims of violence, not try to silence them," he said.
The Daily Wire reached out to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but did not hear back in time for publication.