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Gonzales Speaks at Wash U Amidst Protest, pockets $30,000

On a bitter cold Tuesday evening here in St. Louis, 150-200 people marched and rallied outside a speaking engagement for former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The event was funded by Washington University (specifically the College Republicans, part of the school's tuition-financed Student Union), which paid Gonzales $30,000 for the occasion. This payment came amidst protest from both students and law school faculty.

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Street theater: detainee torture demonstrated

Photos of Rally

Other Media coverage: Post-Dispatch, Fox, KMOX, KMOV, KWMU, PubDef.net (nice video), Student Life, US News

Of 1100 seats available inside the venue (available only to students/faculty), only 400 were taken. Meanwhile, the rally outside, which was organized by the Wash U Peace Coalition, St. Louis Instead of War, St. Louis CODEPINK, and Amnesty International, featured dozens of protesters dressed as Guantanamo detainees, a funk & salsa band, Fallujah the Camel, and street theater demonstrating torture techniques used in Guantanamo Bay.

Gonzales, who spoke of his activities since resigning as US Torture General, answered pre-approved questions from the audience. The speaking event itself was closed to the media. Gonzales touched on the importance of civic action and protest in his speech, but then belittled his opponents: "many who complain the most do not even vote." Despite heckles and other acts of protest by audience members, and when compared to his recent appearances at other universities, Gonzales enjoyed a profitable speaking forum engineered to avoid confrontation.