In the wake of a very aggressive police search, one university is standing up for its students’ civil liberties.

Lindenwood University in Missouri demanded a “written apology” from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after “close to 15″ officers detained two student journalists for 90 minutes, searched their vehicle and personal bags, and “demanded” their Social Security numbers and home addresses.

Their nefarious act? Shooting “generic video” of parked police cars on the street for a story about thefts of musicians’ equipment outside clubs – after requesting and obtaining permission from an officer in the lot, which they didn’t legally need anyway.

The Student Press Law Center has the full story, but the letter from Lindenwood’s president and general counsel – carbon-copied to the St. Louis mayor and Missouri attorney general – is the bigger story.

Their righteous indignation over the “intimidation” of student journalists and strong defense of the First Amendment – even in the midst of tension with cops in the aftermath of the Ferguson riots – should go in the Free Speech Hall of Fame:

[W]hat happened to these student reporters in this incident is unacceptable.

The First Amendment protects the rights of all citizens, credentialed media or not, to take photos and record video of objects visible in plain sight from a legal vantage point such as a public sidewalk. This is not a “gray area” in which any legitimate safety concern justified such a substantial intrusion on these students’ privacy and liberty interests. …

Lindenwood University requests that you make an inquiry into the officers’ behavior and utilize this opportunity to remind them of the First Amendment and lawful treatment of the press – in this case, student press. We request a statement from your office indicating that you take these allegations seriously, and intend to promote a culture where officers do not infringe upon press rights.