From Student Life:
Dressed in orange jumpsuits, bearing signs and chanting anti-Gonzales slogans, more than 100 Washington University students and members of the St. Louis community protested former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ speech on Tuesday night.
While the formal protest remained in an area outside the main entrance of the 560 Building, there were several occurrences during the speech itself meant to draw attention to the discontent over Gonzales’ speaking appearance; these actions did not disrupt the flow of the speech.
On three occasions during the speech, individual members of the audience yelled out the phrases “liar,” “traitor” and “perjurer” before walking out of the building while Gonzales was talking.
“Perjurer, you broke the law, you should be in jail,” shouted one student who left during the speech, whose name was not available.
In another instance, a group of students that had left the protest to listen to the event chose to turn their backs on Gonzales, rather than applaud him.
The primary organizers of the protest were the College Democrats and the Washington University Peace Coalition, but several other groups took part including the St. Louis chapter of Amnesty International.
The protestors’ slogans and signs drew attention to Gonzales’ role in several controversial policies that had been implemented under the Bush administration, including extraordinary rendition, waterboarding and the denial of Geneva Convention rights to enemy combatants.
There is video of the protest at the link above.
From the Belleville News Democrat:
ST. LOUIS –Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ speech Tuesday to Washington University students and faculty was met with protests over his policies — and the $34,500 fee he is charging.
Gonzales’ visit was sponsored by College Republicans. He was invited after a speakers bureau representing the former attorney general approached the university’s undergraduate student government group.
Neil Patel, president of the Student Union government group, said $34,500 in speaking and other fees including air fare, lodging, security and dinner, comes from undergraduate student activities fees.
The total speakers series budget for the year is $50,000.
“It’s fine for him to speak, but it’s embarrassing that we’re contributing $30,000 to his legal defense fund,” said Richard Kuhns, a criminal law professor.
“He’s a disgrace to the country, really. There’s no reason to believe he’s going to have anything important to say. He’s had opportunities to speak before Congress. What anybody’s getting for this $30,000 speech is beyond me.”
The protesters, mostly students, were speaking out against a list of human rights violations, which they lay at the feet of the U.S. government and Alberto Gonzales.
Sophomore Nadia Mann was angry that he would only answer pre-approved questions.
“I’m ok with controversial speakers, but any questions that are asked of him have to be pre-approved. He’s giving us answers to the questions he wants asked.”
The event was closed to the media.
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