A pro-Palestinian student group at the University of Florida is suing the school and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis after attempts were made to deactivate the organization.
In October, Raymond Rorigues, the chancellor of Florida’s university system, issued a “deactivation order” aimed at the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (UF SJP).
Rodrigues admitted that the order was created “in consultation with DeSantis,” which instructed University of Florida faculty to strip UF SJP of its official recognition.
The measure was decided on after the SJP national body voiced their support for the Palestinian “resistance” and claimed the Hamas terrorist attacks were the result of Israel’s “apartheid, ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate bombing” and other “provocations.”
The group also published a “toolkit” that says the Palestinian students in exile are “PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement,” according to Rodrigues.
DeSantis said he believes the move is “totally justified within the law,” which states that it is a felony under Florida law to knowingly provide material aid or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
In response, the ACLU of Florida and Palestine Legal filed a preliminary injunction on behalf of the student group to halt the deactivation order.
“Florida’s deactivation order against a Palestinian rights student group for exercising its free speech and association rights is a clear First Amendment violation,” ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi said in a statement.
Julia Friedland, the Deputy Press Secretary for DeSantis, told Fox News Digital that groups that claim to be a part of a foreign terrorist movement have “no place” on Florida university campuses.
“The governor was right to disband a group that provides material support to a terrorist organization,” she added.
Howard Simon, the interim executive director at the ACLU of Florida, also weighed in on the lawsuit and urged DeSantis and Rodrigues to remain steadfast in their obligations to “respect free speech, open debate and peaceful dissent on campus.”
“If Florida officials think silencing pro-Palestinian students protects the Jewish community—or anyone—they’re wrong. This attack on free speech is dangerous. Today, it is pro-Palestinian students; it could be any other group the governor dislikes,” he said.
The UF SJP chapter also asserted that they have the right to “engage in human rights advocacy” and spread public awareness for a “just and reasonable solution” to the conflict abroad.
“We know we have First Amendment rights in school and we’re bringing this lawsuit to make sure the government doesn’t silence us or others like us,” the chapter added.
In late October, DeSantis said he stood by the decision to decertify any pro-Palestinian student groups that side with Hamas from state college campuses, arguing that to allow these groups to openly side with “brutal terrorist organizations” is like committing “suicide as a country.”
“This is not cancel culture, this group, they themselves said in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that they don’t just stand in solidarity, that they are part of this Hamas movement,” DeSantis said on NBC News. “And so, yeah, you have a right to go out and demonstrate, but you can’t provide material support to terrorism. They’ve linked themselves to Hamas, and so we absolutely decertified them.”
The University of Florida and the UF SJP did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.
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