Interfering with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s motorcade landed one University student in jail.
Police arrested J Burger, University College senior, for disorderly conduct after he rode his bicycle too closely to Albright’s departing motorcade Sunday afternoon. Burger was given a citation and released later that day, said Lieutenant Steve Johnson.
Burger joined about 35 protesters staking out Williams Arena Sunday afternoon in objection to Albright’s policies. Albright, the nation’s top official on foreign policy, delivered the commencement address for the College of Liberal Arts graduation ceremony.
The protesters, led by the Progressive Student Organization, called for the end of United Nations sanctions against Iraq, which Albright supports. PSO members said Iraqi children are dying because sanctions block food and medical supplies.
“Madeleine Albright, you can’t hide, sanctions equal genocide,” the protesters chanted.
Group members said they wanted to show Albright their dissent as she left the University.
“It shows that we’re not all united, the campus is divided,” Burger said before his arrest.
Protesters kept their signs and chants outside of the ceremony, in accordance with security requests. However, one woman inside the arena began screaming protests during Albright’s speech. Police escorted her out, and she left voluntarily without arrest, Johnson said.
Some of the graduates shared the protester’s dismay toward Albright’s foreign policies.
“She’s got blood on her hands,” said Parker Haeg, CLA graduate from the English department. Haeg said he was glad to see the protesters, because they show the wide spectrum of political views on campus.
“If we can’t see beyond our institution and our borders and our state borders, then we’re not citizens of anything,” Haeg said.
Not all of the graduates shared Haeg’s appreciation for the protest.
Sociology graduate JoDee Gamst said she admires Albright and didn’t want protesters clouding her pictures and video.
“I look up to her as a strong woman figure in government,” Gamst said.
Shadia Aliyeh, an Institute of Technology senior who watched a friend graduate in the ceremony, expressed similar concerns.
“It kind of brings the whole mood down,” she shouted over the protesters’ chants. “It’s graduation, we’re supposed to be happy.”