Students from a new campus organization, Cops Off Campus, gathered Monday evening outside the UCR Career Center building to peacefully protest a job information presentation being given by the CIA.
A group of about 10 students were seen in the courtyard around 4 P.M. next to the career center making posters with the phrases, “CIA killed MLK” and “The CIA funded ISIS.”
Event organizer Alejandra Olvera, a 4th-year political science major, told The Highlander about their new group Cops Off Campus stating, “It started off in our meeting last week. We had no idea it was going to happen, until the last minute, so we just got all of us together and contacted Dissenters [an unofficial activist organization at UCR] and started posting on social media.”
Cops Off Campus has a multitude of chapters across other campuses in North America. In particular to California, student chapters are present on the CSUs and UC Davis campuses.
UC Riverside has an unofficial student chapter, but was on a brief hiatus. Olvera revitalized the chapter with the protest against the UCR Career Center hosting an info session with a CIA representative.
Prior to the March 6 meeting, the Career Center sent several emails to the UCR undergraduate community advertising the CIA would be coming to campus. The emails encouraged those interested in a career in intelligence and public service to RSVP for the event. The CIA was scheduled to give an informative presentation March 6 and then offer one on one meetings the following day.
The protesters stationed themselves outside the meeting room where the CIA information session was taking place and a large window allowed them to be visible by both the recruiters and any students present. Despite the protest, the information session appeared to have a full turn out with about 30 students in attendance.
“We’re out here protesting the CIA. The CIA has intervened a lot globally. They keep us in perpetual war. I think overall we should be the generation that puts an end to this,” said Michael Tin, a 2nd-year computer engineer major who is also the tech director for The Highlander.
Outside, students from the Cops Off Campus organization made posters and hung up a large banner on chairs and tables facing the window so that it would be visible to those inside the meeting room. The banner read, “CIA: Recruiting War Criminals” and was adorned with red handprints meant to resemble bloody hands, a symbolic message of the blood that the CIA has on their hands as a result of their war crimes.
The students also played Democracy Now, a left-wing political radio show hosted by Amy Goodman, Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh, on a portable speaker while they worked. The episode played aloud was one surrounding the issues in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The volume was kept at an average level and did not appear to be audible to those inside.
In an effort to spread awareness, the protestors called out to students walking by to gain more supporters. Some students did stop by to ask what was going on and laughed at the signs, but the protest did not result in a larger gathering. An article titled “US: Ex-Detainees Describe Unreported CIA Torture” from The Human Rights Watch website was airdropped to those in the area by protestors to inform students and distract those inside the meeting.
After about 30 minutes, a few of the protesters attempted to go inside the Career Center and enter the meeting, but were turned away by staff who told them that they needed to RSVP for the event in advance and would not be allowed in. Career Center staff monitored the protesters throughout their gathering and spoke to them when the protest first began. Campus security never showed up and the protest overall remained peaceful. The protest ended with the protesters feeling like the event was successful in spreading their message that the CIA is seen as unfavorable and not welcomed on campus.