2006_10_minuteprotest.jpgMembers of Columbia University's Chicano Caucus and International Socialist Organization had a press conference yesterday to discuss the fallout from last week's clash with the Minutemen group on campus. The protesters said they didn't mean to stop the Minutemen's head from speaking when they went on stage, but, as the Chicano Caucus' political chair reasoned, "We are sure that if the Ku Klux Klan came to campus, African Americans would be there to protest. So would we." The protesters also emphasized that the violence was instigated by the Minutemen and College Republicans - not the protesters.

The Bwog, the Columbia blog, covered the press conference with flair:

Next a lady from Washington Heights brings it all back home with a reference to that other issue, Manhattanville. "We're not only exploited in our countries, we also find exploitation here," she says. "They seem to forget that Columbia is in the midst of Harlem, which is a disgrace, a disrespect, and we will not stand by it." She's a practitioner of "radical compassion" and "subversive love." Hey...can we get some of that?

Last up is Adhemir Romero, president of the Chicano Caucus, who tippytoes around the issue by dissociating the group from the inside protest while defending the principle. "We were exercising our right to free speech," he said.

Then came questions, answered by Karina and Monique [Dols, student leader of the ISO]. A Sparticist tries to offer statement as question, the New York Sun challenges the violence, the press gets angry at the students' opacity, and the event becomes a circus.

According to the NY Sun

, Dols was "challenged by reporters to square her advocacy of free speech with her decision to take the stage at last Wednesday's event," and simply answered, "The nature of these questions shows there's more concern for the Minutemen than for helpless illegal immigrants."

Columbia president Lee Bollinger said that the incident would continue to be investigated, "My own view is that seizing the stage does constitute a disruption [of free speech]...It's simply too early to rush to any judgment as to whether disciplinary action should be taken." But it's not too early for Alicia Colon of the NY Sun to demand that Columbia "hunt down all the students who participated in the anti-free-speech riot and expel them." It's a serious smackdown - she also says that the 1968 Columbia riots proved "that the revered university accepted morons into its hallowed halls."

Photograph of the press conference from the Bwog