Disrupting the Torture Professor

Revolution #021, November 6, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Oct. 25, Boalt Law School, UC Berkeley--WCW activists disrupted a class on constitutional law taught by John Yoo, former Bush administration official and an author of the infamous memos that crafted legal justifications for the U.S. to carry out torture. (See the poster series "Conservative My Ass...These People Are Nazis," available online at revcom.us)

One of the protesters, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade and an astrophysics student at UC Berkeley, wrote about the action:

"Right now I’m supposed to be researching the formation of galaxy clusters. But I can’t do that. My studies have been disrupted. I can’t sleep at night; when I do sleep I dream about the torture that this government and its army is carrying out on people in Iraq, in Abu Ghraib prison, in Guantánamo. I dream about the direction this society is going in--toward becoming a Christian Fascist nation. This is happening right now and a lot of people are OK with that--they privately disapprove but they’re just going along with it. So this is a very dangerous time. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate on my classes. And to top it all off, the man who provided the legal justification to carry out this torture is a professor of law here on this campus. My studies are disrupted by this.

"So in response I and two others dressed up as prisoners of Abu Ghraib, as victims of the torture that Professor John Yoo provided the legal justification for. We were led in by someone portraying the army soldiers that conducted the torture. We confronted this law class and the professor. 'This is the reality. What are you going to do about it?' The soldier thanked Yoo for giving him the freedom to carry out the torture. People in the class were upset with us--there were a lot of people who were supportive but a lot of people were upset because we disrupted a few minutes of their class time. We asked them what would they do if they lived in the time when people were fighting for the abolition of slavery or against segregation. And some people said that that was good too, that they love John Yoo and want to go buy him a round of beers. This was the attitude of some of the students. They had the same kind of attitude as the soldiers who humiliated and urinated on the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. There were also a lot of people who said, 'I’m not for torture, I didn’t vote for this.' We asked these people, 'When is it fascist enough for you? When will you consider it intolerable? How can you go and learn constitutional law from somebody like John Yoo?' Then there were people who were interested in our plans for November 2 and for building a movement that can drive the regime from power."

Another Berkeley student with World Can't Wait who took part in this protest said,

"We’ve tried many times to just do passive demonstrations. But we never get any response. And this is getting bigger by the second. Things are getting worse. So now is the time to start taking direct action because you need to start getting people’s attention. You need to find a way and you need to do it. No matter what it takes. How big are we going to let this get? How bad do things have to be before we actually take action? I think we should start off now before things get any worse. We need to stop this before this turns into a situation like Germany in the 1930s. We don’t want that to happen. We want to stop it."

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