By Mike Owens
(KSDK) - Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales got a warm welcome at Washington University Tuesday night. A bit warmer than he expected, as more than a 100 demonstrators protested his appearance.
The demonstrators say Gonzales should not have been invited, because he politicized the Justice Department and oversaw torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Some of the demonstrators wore orange jumpsuits, which are required wear for detainees.
Gonzales was paid a $30,000 fee to speak at the university, a sum collected from student activity fees, which are levied on each student. Some students protesting say that’s too much money for Gonzales and the money could be better spent elsewhere.
However, a university vice-chancellor and director of campus life says the university pays speaker fees for a wide range of guests, ranging from sex therapists to liberal thinkers.
The demonstration looked very noisy, but it wasn’t without planning. In fact, the vice-chancellor, Jill Carnaghi, says the students met with campus police to set down the parameters for their demonstration.
The event was for ticket holders only and the only tickets were for students, plus some staff and faculty. Reporters were not allowed in, but Marla Friedman, a NewsChannel 5 intern and Washington University student, attended at our suggestion. Friedman also joined many others in taking pictures of the event, on her cell phone camera.
Friedman says Gonzales was heckled a bit, but the hecklers were polite. After accusing Gonzales of being a torturer, they sat down and were not removed from the auditorium.
Gonzales, says Friedman, told the crowd how much he loves the United States and while the U.S. has it’s own set of problems, many countries are much worse.
Friedman also offered some selected quotes from the speech:
“We may not be perfect, sometimes we stumble, but we always get up.”
“I have accepted responsibility for the mistakes that are mine.”
And finally, “All you can do is act in good faith, do your best and tell the truth.”