Peter King visited SBU today, October 10, 2006 and I don't think he will ever forget it, thanks to the great work of Stony Brook University's Social Justice Alliance students .
Their original plan, to stand and silently protest during King's speech, fell apart when they were excluded from the auditorium as they told there were no more seats available. . For a while it looked as if the day was lost. However another scenario developed. As Peter King approached to enter the auditorium, he had to pass by a number of people standing in the hallway behind security personnel. Among the group stood Bill McNulty.
"Peter ! " he called out in a voice that could have shaken the pillars of Solomon's Temple, "Peter" he called again, paused for a moment and then challenged King's continued support of the School of the Americas . There was not another sound ; there was no mistaking a single word that Bill said. Peter King hurried by.
Soon the students returned - with Plan B.
Wearing orange T shirts, bearing the words "NO ONE IS ILLEGAL", they entered the area outside the auditorium, formed a marching circle, clapping hands and chanting loudly in protest to King's policies. To their credit, the usual assortment of security personnel did not attempt to stop the proceedings. The chanting continued with great spirit for about 45 minutes or so involving about 30 students . Suddenly the chant became a roar, as King exited the auditorium crossing the hallway,buffered by security, all heading up the wide staircase . Following upon their heels, the students climbed the stairs, with the whole area exploding with "Hey! Ho! Peter King has gotta go! " . King disappeared behind a doorway at the top of the stairs, but the students stayed there on the balcony, chanting and cheering until they knew King had left the building.
It could have been the 2006 version of storming the Bastille! except and this is important, it was all non-violent. Great composure on the part of the students.
So for all of you who have been working so hard for Dave Mejias, or for the immigrants, or for the prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere, or for human rights, today was a day that your message was heard throughout the entire building and in range of all its occupants. How fitting that it took place in the Humanities building.
The students were supported by members of Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Pax Christi, Suffolk Peace Network , World Can't Wait, North Country Peace and others whom I can't recall . Two observers from the ACLU volunteered their time, which was greatly appreciated.
Cheers to the Social Justice Alliance organizers, assisted by Jobs with Justice, and all those who spoke out bravely today.