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Friday, October 7, 2022
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NO FURTHER ACTION TAKEN AGAINST NUS STUDENT WHO HELD ANTI-DEATH PENALTY SIGN

25-year-old NUS graduate, Luke Levy, previously held an anti-death penalty sign during his graduation ceremony and was under investigation by the police after a police report was lodged.

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He has since revealed on Twitter than there will be no further action taken against him by the police, and that he has received an advisory, which he described as being a “metaphorical finger-wag”.

His latest comments on Twitter

I was investigated by the police for holding an anti-death penalty sign during my graduation ceremony. End result: NO. FURTHER. ACTION. No offence, no warning, nothing. Just a metaphorical finger-wag to “refrain from such conduct”.

Here may be a few reasons as to why: — The auditorium is a private place that needs to be rented out, and you need to be invited/a student/faculty/ in order to attend. — It was fully indoors (yes, THAT matters…)

This may set a precedent for how to do protests/public assemblies in Singapore. If you’re SGrean, within a private space, where everyone attending is an invited guest, held fully indoors (heck the indoors clause alone MAY BE enough, but idk for sure)… I guess it’s aight.

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NGL, waiting for months, anxious about police action was kinda brutal. But I knew that this got people talking about the death penalty. How it’s unjust. How the state murders instead of cares. And how to push for action. That eased my anxiety. No regrets with what I did. Never.

Also I HAVE to thank Too Xing Ji, the lawyer who helped me through this, making laws CLEAR to me (which is SUCH a help as I get lost in legalese easily), for making representations to AGC, for advising me on police procedures etc. Seriously, can’t thank him enough.

So what next? Simple, keep fighting against the death penalty. Killing others is not a clear deterrent of crime. It does not address the root cause of ANY crime, no path for rehab, no path for acquittal even. We killed (at least) 501 in the past 30 years. We can’t have any more.

Oh, i should clarify, I’m CELEBRATING this, because there was no charges. The need for police to investigate this is ridiculous yes, plus the intimidation of ‘don’t do it again ah’ in the advisory is unsettling, but how I protested the death penalty is not an offence! yey

Recap

A 25-year-old student from NUS, Luke Levy, who held up an anti-death penalty sign during his graduation ceremony, is being investigated by the police following the lodging of a police report.

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The Singapore Police Force confirmed that they received a police report regarding the incident, but stopped short of revealing who or when the report was made, according to TODAY.

Levy has posted a series of tweets documenting his actions at the graduation ceremony on 11 July.

Here is what he said on Twitter

“Gather round, folks. Here’s a story on the sign I held on stage at my graduation, calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore. And how NUS tried their hardest to erase it.

Gather round, folks. Here’s a story on the sign I held on stage at my graduation, calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore. And how NUS tried their hardest to erase it.

BTW, the death penalty should be abolished. It ignores how deliberate state violence and ignorance forces many into poverty and crime. It unjustly kills the poor. It is not an effective deterrent of ‘crime’. And there’s no acquittal for those found innocent after execution.

When I went up on stage, I unfolded this sign from my gown pocket. It read “Abolish the death penalty. No to state murder. End poverty, not life. Blood on your hands”. I held that sign as I walked on stage, took my on-stage photo, and left the stage, sign in hand.

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It was a small act that I knew could inspire others to take similar action. To stand against violence, to fight for those disproportionately affected by the death penalty. To recognize how power drives violence. To stand in solidarity, love & empathy with everyone.

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An act NUS wants to erase. NUS took down the live recording of my commencement ceremony, only to reupload it later with an edit. If you go to around 1:14:54 in this video, you’ll see the most obvious jump cut in the world, omitting my time on stage. https://youtu.be/uRxP_xRhjlU?t=4494…

In the official stage photograph (that I paid for, for my own private display), the photo studio actually took time to try and edit the words on my sign out. You can still make some words out though, thank goodness they didn’t do a good job with it.

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NUS (and others) went through the EFFORT to crop the sign out. To erase the message from existence. To pretend nobody who studied there thinks this way and is taking action on this. To say ‘all is well’ by excluding something uncomfortable to their institution.

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Thing is, NUS could’ve just… not acknowledged it. But by taking the EFFORT to do that, they’re trumpeting that they would silence anything that threatens their power, even if it’s a call against violence.

It makes them complicit in maintaining hierarchies of power in society. Hierarchies that neglect, that exploit, that turn people against each other, that kill. They’re an institution with state ties, after all. They dare not go against what that grants them academic power.

I gave my space on stage to Kalwant. To Norasharee. To those on death row now. To those already executed. A small, A4-sized disruption, to acknowledge that even taking the stage is a privilege built on a system of violence that oppresses many in society.

Apparently, for an institution that thrives on ideas, papers and works from their staff and students (many of whom I loved to learn with), a single sheet of paper is too extreme of a push for change for them to live with, to the point where it becomes a need to redact it.

I’d just like to end this by echoing (& tweaking) a quote from the speaker at that same ceremony, Georgette Tan. “Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Know your worth. Be strong. Stand up for yourself, and [especially] others around you.” https://youtu.be/uRxP_xRhjlU?t=1908…

Source: Luke Levy on Twitter @AngMohSnowball

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