Nashville Reporter Released After Being Arrested While Covering Pro-Palestine Protests at Vanderbilt University

Image Credit: @NashvilleScene / X

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Eli Motycka, a writer for the Nashville Scene was arrested for criminal trespassing by Vanderbilt University Police last week while reporting on a pro-Palestine sit-in spearheaded by the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition.

A fellow Nashville Scene staff member, Matt Masters, was with Motycka at the time of his arrest and the posted recording begins as police are attempting to handcuff Motycka.

The university released a statement later that day saying that Motycka had been attempting to enter the campus administration building, Kirkland Hall.

“He was informed by university police that the building was closed and was asked to leave several times,” said the university. “After repeated attempts to enter the building, he was detained.”

However, Motycka says he received no prior warnings or requests from police before he was approached by the arresting officer.  

“I’m here working on a story. I’m a credentialed member of the media. I’m a reporter at the Nashville Scene. I wasn’t warned today that I would be taken off this campus in handcuffs. I was here interviewing students. I was here witnessing a protest and now it’s become about me I guess,” Motycka stated as he was being escorted to a police vehicle

When Masters asked Vanderbilt Police who he could contact within the police department they gave him the name of the university’s news media contact. 

Reportedly, Judicial Magistrate Timothy Lee did not find probable cause to hear Vanderbilt’s charges against Motycka. The reporter did not get charged with any crime but instead was released from police custody and brought back to the university campus by the arresting officer around 4p.m. that same day.

“This office will not prosecute a reporter for peacefully doing his or her job,” said a spokesperson for Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk. 

Some have speculated that Motycka’s arrest was an attempt by Vanderbilt University to silence the press and avoid unwanted attention.

Online commenters have voiced the opinion that either Vanderbilt does not want the public to know that this is how their students behave, or the university wants to limit fallout with Jewish and other pro-Israel alumni and funding sources.

Leading up to the student protest and his arrest on Tuesday, March 26th, Motycka had been reporting on the efforts of some Vanderbilt students to amend their Student Government Constitution.

These students are part of the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition, describing themselves as “a diverse coalition of student organizations on Vanderbilt University’s campus launching a campaign for the passage and adoption of a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) constitutional amendment by Vanderbilt Student Government.”

This would have reportedly prevented student government funds from “going to certain businesses that support Israel.” 

However, administration officials removed the amendment from the student government’s ballot and did not permit them to vote.

Vanderbilt administration told The Tennessean that the proposed amendment “did not move forward because of potential conflict with federal and state laws” and that any boycotts from the university could make them “ineligible for new state contracts and could have existing contracts voided.”

Following this removal, a group of masked students forcibly pushed their way past a Community Service Officer and into the lobby of Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier’s office for a sit-in to protest the administration’s decision.

Students sat arm-in-arm chanting things like “You’re a coward,” “Shame,” “Free free Palestine,” and “Daniel Diermeier you can’t hide. You’re supporting genocide.”

“You are black in America and you are not standing with the marginalized people of the world. What does that make you?” one student yelled at a police officer.

There was also a group of students protesting outside of the building, yelling at campus police and later on hammering on the glass doors of the building chanting, “let them pee, let them eat.” 

Several hours into the 21-hour sit-in, the university began to issue interim suspensions. 

“Early this morning a group of students breached the university’s main administration building that was closed for ongoing construction and clearly marked as such,” Vanderbilt said in a statement. “Some students physically assaulted a Community Service Officer to gain entrance and proceeded to push staff members who offered to meet with them.”

“Students on interim suspension must leave campus immediately and may not return until further notice,” stated the university.

At least 20 Nashville Police officers in 15 different cars were reportedly called to the scene in addition to the campus police officers already present. According to Steve McGuire, four students ended up getting arrested. One outside for “allegedly breaking a lane of glass” and three from inside of the building.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. 

You can reach Adelia at

6 thoughts on “Nashville Reporter Released After Being Arrested While Covering Pro-Palestine Protests at Vanderbilt University

  • April 1, 2024 at 3:46 pm

    The spirit of Schutzstaffel and Gestapo have become strong in United States “police”.

  • April 1, 2024 at 6:50 pm

    Any parent who pays tuition for their child to go to Vanderbilt at this point is a fool. The same organization that terminated health care workers who refused to get the “vax.” What a hypocritical anti American institution.

  • April 2, 2024 at 12:53 am

    The false arrest lawsuit is on the way.

  • April 2, 2024 at 11:39 am

    All these students would have been arrested for trespassing and assault, and suspended indefinitely from a normal university, but alas, Vanderbilt is a WOKE organization and they will reap what they have sown from their student body.

  • April 2, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    HOW long are we going to put up with this crap out of our SCHOOLS, that our TAX dollars built. THIS is not AMERICA any longer.

  • April 3, 2024 at 5:48 pm

    Now I’m wondering if I should detour through Nashville on my way to see the solar eclipse in Western Tennessee and have a one-man mostly peaceful protest on the steps of Vanderbilt? If I do then I’ll be sure to wear my kippa and have a set of brass knuckles in my back pocket.


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