Fire and Disbar John Yoo Campaign Arrives in Southern California

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John Yoo, the architect of the infamous torture memo, has arrived in Southern California for the Spring 2009 semester at Chapman University Law School .  Carrying on with the work of the Fire John Yoo group in Berkeley, WCW-LA activists and Code Pink-Orange County joined forces on January 30th to “welcome” Yoo at a Chapman conference, "Lincoln's Constitutionalism in Time of War:  Lessons for the War on Terror?" Within minutes of standing in orange jumpsuits at the conference registration table, we were threatened with arrest for trespassing.  Private property trumps human rights! 
 

 

 
We decided to take our message outside where activists lined the sidewalk in front of the Law School and met students, professors and administrators who are outraged that this war criminal has been invited to be a “distinguished visiting professor” on a campus that is proud of its liberal arts tradition, complete with a peace studies major.  Orange ribbons and bandanas were taken up enthusiastically.  In response to the WCW posters that read “Torture = War Crime” and “John Yoo = War Criminal” and the “No Torture” banner, a few people who went by were pro-torture, but most people grabbed flyers and/or gave their support.  A number of people didn’t know much about who John Yoo is or that he’s now on their campus, so we are planning an event with a Chapman law professor to give people the information they need about Yoo’s crimes and how they can become activists in this anti-torture campaign.  An editor of the campus newspaper interviewed us and took photos for a major article that they are planning about Yoo.
 
Inside the conference, John Yoo met his match in an elderly Korean man who travelled 3 hours each way, taking 5 buses, to attend the conference and speak out against Yoo.  In addition, Marjorie Cohn, Katherine Darmer, and others brought out powerful arguments on the panels.
 
We returned on February 2nd for the first day of classes with a larger group including some Chapman students.  In addition to WCW and Code Pink, there were people from Military Families Speak Out, Amnesty International, OC Peace Coalition, OC Peace & Freedom Party, and OC Democratic Club.   A journalism student interviewed us after she readily took up the class assignment to cover this story, and she left with an orange ribbon on her backpack.
 
So, seeds have been planted, and emails are flying back and forth between different groups and individuals about the next steps.  Lots of potential – banner drops, regular presence in front of the law school during his classes combined with the weekly peace vigil at a nearby busy intersection, film showings of movies like Rendition (now that the Obama administration has decided to continue this heinous practice of kidnapping people and sending them to countries who will carry out torture for the U.S.).