Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Karl Rove gets a Baltimore reception/Students, protesters ejected from controversial MSE speech


Students, protesters ejected from controversial MSE speech



Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 00:11


 Protesters and sympathizers of the Occupy movements temporarily halted a lecture given by Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, at Hopkins' Homewood campus on Tuesday night.


Activists, predominately entrants in the Inner Harbor's Occupy Baltimore camp, interrupted Rove's speech with chanted political epithets, inciting anger from audience members, security officers, and Rove himself.


Rove was the capstone speaker of Hopkins' Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, an annual lecture series offered by the University.


A small group of protesters gathered in front of Shriver Hall, the University's main auditorium, in the hour preceding the lecture, shouting chants read from orange cue cards at the base of the building's steps. Lawrence Egbert, a member of the Johns Hopkins Class of 1948 and an anesthesiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, stood towards the back of the crowd, orange sheet in hand.


 "[Rove's political strategy] is based on a bunch of lies, and everybody knows it," Egbert said. "I was [at Hopkins] during World War II, and we were proud of what we were doing. Not this, though. Not this."


The lecture was slated to begin at 8 p.m., at which point the assembly dissipated into the auditorium itself. The gathering, however, proved to be a precursor to a larger protest. Ten minutes into Rove's speech, an unidentified male stood up from his seat in the center of the audience and began chanting, "I say ‘Bush years,' you say ‘nightmares!" Scattered throughout the audience, protesters abandoned anonymity and engaged in the call and responded.


Pandemonium ensued. A bevy of protesters contributed to the chants with political expletives of their own, successfully halting Rove's speech.


"War criminal! Murderer!" one female protester shouted, before a Hopkins security officer escorted her from the auditorium.


The remainder of the audience, which consisted largely of Hopkins undergraduates, responded with either confusion, craning heads to identify the sources, or, increasingly, hostility. Some members of the staff of the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium – comprised entirely of undergraduates – called in security officials; others attempted to silence the outspoken themselves.


Students raised cell phones with illuminated camera flashes; some snapped shots of Rove, who appeared to be waiting for silence, but most documenting the outbursts, now unified by raucous chants of the Occupy movements' percentage creed.


"You want to keep jumping up and yelling ‘We're the 99 percent'?" Rove asked, shouting into his microphone. "How presumptuous and arrogant do you think you are?"


Chaos pervaded above his retort, prompting security officials to escort additional protesters from the premises. One officer slung an uncooperative individual over his shoulder and carried him towards the door, prompting cheers from the audience.


Order was not restored until junior Elizabeth Goodstein, a co-chair of the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, took the stage and the microphone, chastising those who participated in the outburst.


"Regardless of your political beliefs, students are here to hear Mr. Rove speak," she said, prompting immediate applause. "You are not only disrespecting Mr. Rove; you are disrespecting us," – she gestured towards the first few rows of the audience, where student government officers sat – "and the rest of the student body."


Though Rove continued his lecture, he paused on three further occasions in the face of interruption. At one point, he jeeringly invited a demonstrator to fight him onstage.


"Stop acting like fascists and start acting like Americans," he said.


With each outburst, participation from the non-activist members of the audience increased.


"Stand up, coward," shouted one unidentified undergraduate to Asher Strauss, a 23-year-old protester donning a rasta hat, who had screamed that Rove was a racist.


Security officials soon escorted Strauss from the premises.


A question and answer period followed the lecture, though the tenor of the audience remained tense and, ultimately, unforgiving from either camp. Further shouts of "murderer" accompanied a question regarding Obama's maintenance of the economic derivatives of the war in Iraq. Freshman Alexander Grable presented a question to Rove on Obamacare; when Grable sought to retort to Rove's response, an undergraduate staff member turned the microphone away from his face.


And as Grable, who was donned in a coat and tie, turned to walk from the microphone, Rove laughed.

"That's a good looking suit," he said.


The end of the question and answer period saw the end of the event and an audience of about half of its initial size. Many of its primary constituents had been expelled from the auditorium. Others had left in disgust.


Meanwhile, evicted activist Asher Strauss stood on the steps of the auditorium in his rasta hat, smoking a cigarette. A participant in Occupy Baltimore from the start, Strauss said he is accustomed to official harassment.


"I'm used to it," he said. "But I'm not backing down."


For further coverage, see the upcoming print edition of The News-Letter.


'Occupy' protesters disrupt Karl Rove at Hopkins

About 15 people asked to leave JHU speech; some forcibly removed

By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

11:16 PM EST, November 15, 2011

About 15 protesters were asked to leave a speech by Karl Rove at Johns Hopkins University after staging "organized disruption," a university official said.

Some protesters were forcibly removed from the auditorium, said spokeswoman Tracey A. Reeves. The protesters were not believed to be Hopkins students, she said.

They were affiliated with the Baltimore offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Shortly after 10 p.m. the group, which goes by the name Occupy Baltimore, shared via Twitter a six-minute YouTube video of the incident.

In the video, beginning at 1:47, the protesters shout, "Mic check," followed by a call-and-response phrase: "Karl Rove is the architect of occupy Iraq, is the architect of occupy Afghanistan."

"Here's the deal, if you believe in free speech … then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q and A session," Rove responds from the stage. His reply is greeted with clapping and a standing ovation from the crowd.

A few moments later, Rove says, "You can go ahead and stand in line and have the courage to ask any damn question you want or you can continue to show that you are a buffoon."

After they chant "occupy America," Rove counters the protesters by saying, "Who gave you the right to occupy America? Nobody."

Near the end of the approximately four minutes of commotion shown in the video, the protesters begin repeating, "We are the 99 percent."

Rove then begins intoning the response: "No, you're not. No, you're not."

Rove, a former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush, was taking part in a symposium series at the university.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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