Friday, March 2, 2007

Anti-War Activists Arrested

At approximately 2:25 PM on February 28, 2007, at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)
two Campus Antiwar Network activists and NEIU Socialist Club members, Ken Barrios and
Matt Larson, were arrested for the crime of trying to enter a school sponsored meeting
with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

When the students tried to enter the meeting, Robin Wagner, the Chief Clerk of the
Placement Office, physically tried to prevent the students from getting into the meeting.
Ms. Wagner claimed that the students did not make "reservations" to attend the meeting.
When Barrios attempted to open the door to the meeting the police pounced on him and
he was arrested for "disrupting" an event on campus. Larson attempted to get through
another door that was being blocked by Ms. Wagner. When he got through the door and
into the meeting, according to witnesses, he was dragged out of the meeting. Ms. Wagner
has claimed that Larson hit her and is pursuing charges of assault. However, four other
witnesses there said Matt Larson never touched Ms. Wagner. Predictably, the police were
not interested in getting a statement from any of these witnesses.

Ms. Wagner claims that reservations were needed to enter the meeting, but none of the
fliers announcing the event claimed students would need to make reservations. Moreover,
Dean of Students Michael Kelly, on February 21, 2007 sent the following email to "student
leaders" on campus:

Dear Student Leaders,

This is to inform you of military and government recruiters who have requested space on
campus this semester to distribute information and speak with students.

The dates and locations are:

US Navy, 2/23, 9-1pm, in Village Square
CIA, 2/28, 2pm, PE 2140 classroom
Various, 3/29, 11-3, Campus Job Fair, PE Gym
US Dept. of State, 4/2, 1:30, PE 2140 classroom

I would like to meet with you or your representatives to answer questions you may have on
university policies pertaining to demonstrations and the distribution of information,
should you wish to protest the presence of these groups on campus.

Please relay your interest and I will coordinate the meeting.

Regards,

Michael T. Kelly, MPA, Ed.D.
Dean of Students and Instructor of Educational Leadership
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 North Saint Louis Avenue, B-119
Chicago, Illinois 60625-4699

Nowhere in this email is any mention made of the need to make a reservation in order to
attend the meeting with the C.I.A. We believe that this has nothing to do with
reservations, disrupting campus events or anything of the sort. We believe this behavior
from the police at NEIU and the vigilante-like behavior of Robin Wagner fit into a long
pattern of suppressing the rights and voices of students on campus.

While the administration at NEIU has been more than willing to extend invitations to such
diverse groups as Heterosexuals for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.) and the Central
Intelligence Agency, last semester the Office of Student Affairs decertified almost half of
the registered student clubs on campus because many student officers were unable to
make a power-point presentation scheduled in the middle of the day—an unreasonable
request at a working-class commuter college.

At NEIU we have only recently wrapped up a long battle over administrator' s attempts to
create a so-called "free speech zone" on campus in a direct attempt to curtail that
attempts of students to protest the presence of military recruiters on campus.

Just last spring, Larson and fellow student Mallory Bernstein were threatened with arrest
and then suspension for the "crime" of "counter-recruiting"—exposing the lies of military
recruiters-- while standing in front of a military recruitment table in a job fair on campus.

The result of this battle for free speech was the suspension of any talk of a free speech
zone and an affirmation of the right to protest on our campus. This is exemplified by the
email sent out by Dean Kelly inviting students to "protest the presence of these groups on
campus". It was the actions of the NEIU police and Robin Wagner—who took it upon
herself to physically block the attempts of registered students from entering a university
event-—that turned this legal expression of protected speech and protest into a criminal
offense.

• We demand that the university drop the trivial misdemeanor charge of "disruption" with
which Ken Barrios has been charged.

• We demand the university drop the more serious charge of "assault" with which Matt
Larson has been charged, as he never laid a finger on Robin Wagner. There are several
witness, who campus police refused to interview, that can attest to that fact.

• We demand the right to freely exercise our legal right to protest the presence of military
recruiters on campus without threat of administrative or police retaliation and harassment.

• We demand that Ms. Robin Wagner, Chief Clerk of the Placement Office, be disciplined
for physically attempting to obstruct the entry of registered NEIU students into an event
advertised on campus as open to everyone.

Please call, fax and email the following people to express your solidarity with the
principles of free speech and free assembly in our society in general and on the campus of
Northeastern Illinois University. Moreover, please graciously ask that all charges be
dropped against students Ken Barrios and Matt Larson.

Robin Wagner R-Wagner@neiu.edu
Chief Clerk in Placement Office
Phone (773)-442-4681

Michael Kelly M-Kelly2@neiu.edu
Dean of Students
Phone (773)-442-4610
Fax (773)-442-4615

Lorn Coleman L-Coleman@neiu.edu
Placement Office Director
Office Phone(773)-442-4693
General Placement Office Phone (773)-442-4680
Fax (773)-442-4690

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