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Man Arrested, Charged For Asking Controversial Question At KC Library

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The executive director of the Kansas City library system says he is “outraged” that prosecutors continue to pursue charges against a man who was arrested after asking pointed questions during a library discussion about the Middle East peace process and an employee who tried to intervene. Although the arrests occurred in May following a speech by author and diplomat Dennis Ross, the library system only recently went public about its opposition to charges, the Kansas City Star reported. R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the city’s library system, said “we’re going to be living in a different kind of country” if people can be arrested for asking questions at a library.

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Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans should be concerned about actions by the US and Israel that amount to “state-sponsored terrorism.” When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, “Get your hands off of me right now!” Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers who had been hired by the event sponsor; they face charges in city court, Rothe-Kushel with trespassing and resisting arrest and Woolfolk with interfering with an arrest. Kemper says the private security guards had no right to remove a patron for asking a question.

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