200 Students Witness WaterBoarding

200 students witness water-boarding demonstration at Diablo Valley College (CA)

from San Francisco Bay Area World Can't Wait
Diablo Valley College Inquirer article


On October 30, 2008 World Can't Wait and Contra Costa Radical Action organized a water boarding demonstration at DiabloValleyCollege in Pleasant Hill, CA, (a local community college in conservative suburban ContraCostaCounty).  This action was organized to bring awareness and hopefully motivate the students to take some kind of action against the torture and war that is going in their names. The college has a very diverse group of students and the quad area is usually congested with people standing around in groups discussing the latest trends.


About an hour before the demonstration a couple of us walked around the campus informing and inviting the students to the demonstration. We asked them if they had heard about water boarding and if the had any opinions on it. Most had never heard of water boarding but were interested and wanted to check out the demonstration.

We set up in the middle of the quad on a stage with large signs that read "NO TORTURE" and a bench for the water boarding. As I walked through the crowds inviting more students to come watch I noticed that a lot of students were noticing the signs and became interested in what was going on. We ended up growing a large crowd of about 150-200 students.

We began with a speaker getting on the stage and speaking about the torture happening all over the world by our government in our names and calling on people to decide for themselves what they think about it.  Then three men (two dressed in military uniforms and one as a CIA agent) grabbed an seemingly unsuspecting person (who was actually part of our group) out of the crowd as he kicked and screamed.

They dragged him to the bench shouting at him as he screamed, "what's going on!" and "what did I do?"  The soldiers hit and yelled at him as they shouted a barrage of questions about dates, times and peoples" names.  He repeated that he was only a journalism student with no ties to terrorists. Then the soldiers forced him onto a bench, covered his mouth with a towel and began to pour water over his face, simulating a water boarding. During this demonstration some students laughed as if it were a joke, while others took it very seriously, even looking at those who were laughing in disgust.

Once it was over, the speaker asked the crowd if they thought it was torture and many people screamed out "YES!" While a few others thought it was funny and screamed out "NO!" Then many people in the crowd broke out into different discussions and debates about torture and the wars in the Middle East. These types of political discussions are rare, especially at this scale, on this campus.

There were some heated disagreements with those who support the military or these wars and those who don't. An Iranian woman, who stated that she had grown up in war and still had nightmares about it, pleaded with a young man who had signed up for the military to get out. She stated how important these issues of war were to her that even though she had an important class to attend, she would rather stay out in the quad and continue these discussions.

Even though everyone did not agree with each other it was a very effective action. It got a lot of people who don't usually or even ever consider or know about these issues to begin discussing them.  We plan to follow up with the students we met out there today and continue to fight against war and torture, no matter who becomes the next president.  Hopefully some of those who were horrified by the water boarding that they saw and motivated to act, can also be part of the movement to fire torture professor John Yoo at UC Berkeley.