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Students at Northwestern University Charged as Criminals for Parody Newspaper Supporting Palestine

In October, a group of students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, made a memorable intervention into campus discussion of Israel’s war on Gaza. Across the campus, on desks and bulletin boards, and even in official newspaper stands, students found the day’s issue of Northwestern Daily, a parody of the Daily Northwestern, reports Connor Echols. The parody newspaper included fake quotes from school officials, a fake ad for Birthright Israel with the tagline “One man’s home is another man’s former home!” and other pro-Palestinian content.

The intervention in the Chicago-area university drew more than attention and condemnation; two of the students responsible for the prank have been charged with the class A misdemeanor of “theft of advertising services,” under a statute that makes it illegal to insert an “unauthorized advertisement in a newspaper or periodical.”

Even the editorial board of the Daily Northwestern, the parodied newspaper, wrote to denounce the criminal prosecution of their fellow students, calling for the case to be dropped. Of the decision to pursue criminal charges rather than other sanctions, the editorial states, “It’s very clear that this is a discriminatory action.”

A group of 70 student organizations has pledged that they will not speak to the newspaper until the charges are dropped.

The article by Connor Echols was produced in partnership with The Intercept.