Protesters Follow Yoo to First Day of Class

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UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's eventful first day of class on Monday included the arrest of four individuals who were protesting his return to campus.

More than 50 protesters from several organizations converged at the law school Monday afternoon to voice their concerns surrounding Yoo's alleged justification of the torture of terrorism suspects.

Four protesters were arrested after entering the lecture hall where Yoo was conducting his class, according to Stephanie Tang, a World Can't Wait activist who was the first arrested.

She said UCPD charged them with trespassing and disturbing the peace. They were also ordered to stay away from campus for the next week.

"We were not disturbing the peace, we were challenging the University of California for providing a safe haven for (Yoo)," Tang said.

Neither Yoo nor UCPD officials could be reached for comment.

Yoo, who has resumed his teaching position on campus after a semester-long sabbatical at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., worked as a deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Bush administration.

During his tenure, he wrote several legal memos that critics say justified illegal interrogation techniques- including simulated drowning, exposure to non-lethal insects and sleep deprivation- to be employed on suspected terrorists.

Protesters from organizations such as the National Accountability Network, Code Pink and World Can't Wait gathered for a press conference at Boalt that included speakers and an "agitation propaganda" skit.

"There were people dressed up as pink police who were saying that they should arrest John Yoo for war crimes," said Dan Siegel, a civil rights attorney who spoke at the event.

Some protesters wearing orange jumpsuits and hoods stood as sentries outside the building entrance of Boalt Hall, handing out literature to entering students until Yoo's class began.

About 25 protesters moved their protest into the building, outside of Yoo's more than 150-student class on civil procedure.

Dyanna Quizon, a third-year law school student who is taking Yoo's class, said every time the classroom door opened, students could hear the protesters outside.

One protester who had managed to enter the classroom yelled out during the class and was escorted out by UCPD, Quizon said.

Boalt officials and a few UCPD officers monitored the protesters for the duration of the class, she said, adding that Yoo remained calm throughout the protest.

Quizon said that Monday's interruptions should not interfere with students' class time.

"The students had nothing to do with what happened before," she said. "They should handle it in the courts, not interrupt the classroom."


Contact Angelica Dongallo and Zach E.J. Williams at [email protected]

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