THE ISSUE Delaware State University Assistant Professor Dr. Jahi Issa has obtained the legal assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union in fighting a possible violation by the university on his First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.


THE ISSUE Delaware State University Assistant Professor Dr. Jahi Issa has obtained the legal assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union in fighting a possible violation by the university on his First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.

Delaware State University Police arrested Issa Feb. 29 as they were trying to disperse 20 students protesting DSU President Dr. Harry Williams’ management style because they did not have a permit. Police then levied several charges against him and banned him from campus.

The ACLU of Delaware has been representing Issa because DSU’s placing him on administrative leave and instructing him not to contact any DSU student or employee raise important issues under the First Amendment, ACLU Executive Director Kathleen MacRae said.

“At the time Dr. Issa was arrested students were gathering for the purpose of walking to the DSU Board of Trustees meeting to express their views on issues of importance to them,” she said. “DSU was not entitled to require a permit for that activity, any more than a town would have been under the circumstances.”

DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes declined to comment on this latest development.

“The situation with Dr. Issa is unchanged,” he said. “He is on paid administrative leave pending a university investigation, which is ongoing. From our end, that about all we can say about the gentlemen's situation at this point.”

WHAT WE’VE REPORTED A group of 20 students began protesting Williams at around 1 p.m., Feb. 29 for a critical report by the state auditor on the university’s business practices and for the increasing number of non-black students at the historically black college. DSU Police arrested Issa when he allegedly became verbally abusive as they dispersed the crowd, Holmes said.

Police later charged him with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, offensive touching of a law enforcement officer and inciting a riot. He was released on his own recognizance by the magistrate judge in Kent County Justice of the Peace Court 7. DSU police then issued Issa a no-trespass notice and he was told he could only enter campus with permission from the police, Holmes said.

WHAT’S NEXT Issa has retained attorney Melissa Dill of Ligouri & Morris in Dover to help him fight the criminal charges against him.

He is scheduled to appear in the Court of Common Pleas for preliminary proceedings on May 3.