Occupy UChicago protest deemed a success on a night others face challenges
A planned protest at the University of Chicago against former Goldman Sachs CEO and former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went on without the pair Monday night, while Occupy protestors across the country faced increasing police pressure.
The event, titled "Unwelcoming Paul and Condi - Occupy Hyde Park", had almost 300 people attending on Facebook. The plan was to rally outside the International House in protest of Paulson and Rice, who, in the words of the protestors, represent the "interconnections between corporate money, political power, and academia." Paulson was appointed to the University in July as a distinguished senior fellow at the Harris School of Public Policy.
In a curtailed email to the student body sent Sunday night, University Provost Thomas Rosenbaum supported the University's decision to allow the former United States Cabinet secretaries to discuss, among other things, Rice's recent book No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.
"We must protect a speaker’s right to be heard, just as we have a responsibility to challenge their ideas with honesty, vigor, and respect," wrote Rosenbaum. "No speaker is to be expected to present all views on a subject, but as a community, we offer the possibility of additional fora for exploration of contrasting opinions, so that taken together inquiry can proceed untrammeled in the service of scholarship."
"We will continue to respect the rights of protesters to express their views in a peaceful manner that does not prevent invited guests from speaking," Rosenbaum continued. "However, should individuals violate these expectations and attempt to shut down the speech of others, we must take action to protect our fundamental values."
But come Monday morning, the talk had been indefinitely postponed "due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict." The Sun-Times credited it to Rice's double-booking; she was also scheduled to attend a fundraising dinner for Illinois Republican Representative Aaron Schock that same evening.
The rally still went on, as these images show, with little police involvement. Organizers credited it for pressuring the cancellation of the talk, and deemed it a "success." Earlier in the day, the protest had drawn supporters from outside the movement, with musician Lupe Fiasco tweeting about Occupy Chicago's protest being held on the South Side, using the hashtag "#occupythehood."
It appears that the event may have inspired protestors within the University community to become more involved in the Occupy movement; as of this morning, about 100 people had joined the UChicago Occupy group. In previous weeks, students from the UofC had not been considered a hugely visible presence in the Occupy Chicago student movement.
Meanwhile Monday night marked the first drastic change within the Occupy movement, as protestors at the hub of the action in New York were ousted from their encampment in Zuccotti Park.