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Student protesters to U police: Condoleezza Rice is 'truly dangerous'

  • Blog Post by: Maura Lerner
  • April 15, 2014 - 2:36 PM

Student activists at the University of Minnesota are ratcheting up their protest against a campus visit by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is scheduled to speak Thurday at Northrop Auditorium.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which tried and failed to get the U to rescind its invitation to Rice, has sent a letter to the U police chief, Greg Hestness, claiming that a "truly dangerous" person is heading to campus.

"From time to time, truly dangerous people do come to our campus. We would like to alert you to the upcoming presence of such a person..." says the April 13 letter, which was also sent to the University's general counsel.

In the letter, SDS offers police a description of Rice: "a 59-year-old African American woman, 5'8" tall, (who) will be present on Northrop Auditorium's main stage." It even offers to provide a photo, while noting "it might just be easier for you to access one online."

If U officials are taking the letter seriously, they're not saying. But they have dismissed the group's efforts as a misguided attack on free speech. Earlier this month, the University Senate overwhelmingly voted down a proposal, initiated by SDS, to condemn the U for inviting Rice. She was invited by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to speak about civil rights as part of the Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series. Tickets to her speech, which is free, were snapped up in February.

The letter argues that: "There is probable cause to believe Dr. Rice has been involved in massive criminal activity" - a reference to her role in the controversial wartime policies of President George W. Bush. Citing international law against torture, it says: "We are confident that you will at least bring Dr. Rice in to be questioned. We hope, however, that you do not employ the interrogation techniques she so willingly approved."

It ends: "Thank you very much for helping to make our campus safer for all of us."

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