About 400 students and community members gathered at 12 pm at Pardall Tunnel to voice their dissent toward war and the military presence at UCSB. The direct aim of the protest was to disrupt the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnology’s (ICB) annual conference.
The ICB is a program built between the United States Army and researchers at UCSB. The ICB focuses on providing the Army with full spectrum access to technology that would increase effectiveness. The Army has given UCSB over $50 million to be distributed over the next five years for the research done in the ICB.
The action began with a rally and an open mike forum for speeches. Speakers included students and people who had previously served in the Iraq war. Although the protest was only advertised as an anti-war demonstration, protesters took direct action against the ICB conference because, as one speaker put it, “There is fighting done in the war, and there is building for the war. They’re building war on our campus.”
Around 1 pm, the assembly marched across campus with chants of “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist war! Five, six, seven, eight, we don’t want your fascist state!” The march ended at Corwin Pavilion where police officers had already blocked off the area.
Protesters broke through the rope barriers and proceeded to disrupt the outdoor luncheon of the ICB conference. Several people stood on tables while the group flooded the tent with chanting, music, and dancing. ICB conference goers evacuated and returned to the meeting hall.
Two un-named members of the protest were arrested and put in police cars. The majority of individuals then left Corwin and sat with linked arms surrounding the cars so that the cars could not leave. There were several incidents in which police officers attempted to use force prevent protesters from blocking the cars. It was not stated what the two protestors were arrested for. Police declined to comment.
Throughout the afternoon, students continued to make noise and barricade doors to Corwin with their bodies in a continued attempt to disrupt the conference. As members of the conference were leaving the building, students entered and proceeded to have a meeting about future actions. The conference was no longer formally in session.
While students were in the building, police officers arrested a female student who was removing ICB posters and dragged her outside. “She was just standing there holding posters and the next thing I saw was that several officers were on top of her” said Jasper Shiloh, who was present at the event. When other members of the group attempted to follow the arrested student out of the building, police shut the door in front of them and brandished cans of pepper spray. Students then used a different exit to follow the arrestee and encircled the police car she was in, using the same tactic as earlier that afternoon.
Many present at the event expressed strong motivations for attending. Angie Wootton, a UCSB student, said, “The UC shouldn’t be involved in the military industrial complex. It is our duty to stand up against this when we are being represented by the UC in foreign affairs”.
J, a non-refugee from New Orleans, showed sentiment reflective of the entire event: “Today I stand with hundreds of my brothers and sisters in a movement of peace. Tomorrow I will keep fighting and moving forward, and if this means stepping on toes of leaders and our so-called protectors, then I will do so. Understand that this fight is not just for today, but until we see change.”
Correction:The printed version of this article states that “About 1,000 students” were in attendance. There was a discrepancy on what the actual total was, but we have been informed the number was closer to 400 protesters. Revisions have been made.