Berkeley: Banning "Outside Agitators" For Denouncing Torture?

Revolution #026, December 12, 2005, posted at

Three people in black hoods and orange jumpsuits were led on a leash by a man in combat fatigues straight up to Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo in the middle of his Oct. 25 lecture on constitutional law. Yoo is the author of notorious White House memos legally justifying U.S. torture around the world. Suddenly debate raged in the classroom and hallways as people, dressed as a hooded victims of torture, called Yoo out for the war criminal he is.

In retaliation, UC authorities threatened students they suspected of being involved and then officially banned two “non-student” protesters from the Berkeley campus for 7 days. They used a notorious law that gives campus authorities the power to prosecute “outside agitators.” In 1965 when that law was passed, Berkeley students were waging the Free Speech Movement exactly for the right of “off-campus” activists to organize on campus – especially civil rights organizers recruiting for campaigns in the Deep South. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover announced that forty-three communists were involved in the Free Speech Movement. And surrounded by hysteria about “outside agitators,” the law was pushed through the California legislature.

Now, 40 years later, this same law is being used by UC administrators -- in step with nationwide efforts to punish and put down resistance and radical thought on campuses.

We are living in a time when the U.S. government is declaring a war on the world and openly justifying the use of torture. Now political activists are criminalized as "outsiders" for stepping onto Berkeley's campus to challenge a man who openly promotes and has provided the legal basis for the U.S. to carry out widespread torture.

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