Violent Protests End the Conversation with CIA Director John Brennan

“Drones kill kids!”

“The CIA is a terrorist organization!”

These phrases were uttered by members and sympathizers of the University of Pennsylvania’s, Students for a Democratic Society organization on Friday, April 1st at the Penn Museum where CIA Director, John Brennan, was speaking as a guest to Penn’s Fels Institute of Government.

As Penn student, Ben Fogel, put it, “It ended up like a Trump rally.”

The protests started after only the second question. In addition to the “Drones kill kids” chants, members of the audience also started shouting, “Black Lives Matter!”

When an Irish man, born in Philly, requested that the protesters sit down and let Brennan address their concerns, a protester yelled, “Go back to your own country!”

Brennan’s security detail tried to quell the protesters, but Marjorie Margolies, the moderator of the event and a Senior Fellow at the Fels Institute, asked the protesters to allow Brennan to respond to their remarks.

Brennan countered by talking about the CIA’s recent success in killing the number two top ISIS leader in an air strike, and how drones can be effective weapons.

However, the protesters started again. This time, a group stood up with a Palestinian flag and chanted, “No justice, no peace, no US in Middle East!”

As the chaos erupted once more, another man got up and shouted, “The CIA are the real torturers!” When security got involved, the man wouldn’t back down. He got in the security guards’ faces, and looked as if he wanted them to punch him.

The Dean of the Law school got up, and tried to control the crowd as a small scuffle unfolded between the man and one or two security officers.

With the event getting violent, security started to usher everyone out after Brennan had only spoken for approximately 20 minutes.

The violence didn’t end there though. According to one person, the African American woman who accompanied the man that had gotten into the altercation with security started walking out of the room when an old woman stopped her to tell her how disrespectful her and her partner had been. The old woman pointed her cane at her. The African American woman grabbed the cane and threw the old woman over a row of seats after saying, “How dare you do that! I’m not a slave. You’re not my slave master. You can’t tell me what to do!”

Security intervened.

As the audience was ushered out, Students for a Democratic Society stood outside and handed out flyers that explained their reasons for protesting.*

Although many of the protesters were not students, Penn’s SDS organized the protest, and encouraged community members on their Facebook event, entitled PROTEST John Brennan, to attend and disrupt the conversation.

Brennan was upset. Marjorie Margolies was shaken, and a majority of the audience members were disappointed the event had ended so early knowing that Penn would not have such a high-profile speaker for another five to ten years.

Penn sophomore, Nathaniel Rome, expressed his feelings on the affair saying, “The cornerstone of our university – and our society – is free expression, mutual respect, and diversity of opinion. I was disappointed to see some in our community attempt to silence the voice of Director Brennan, a man who has dedicated his career to the service of this country.”

*As we get more information on the events that transpired, The Statesman will make changes to best represent what happened at the John Brennan event. We are only concerned with what actually happened, and, as this was a very chaotic event, we have gotten conflicting accounts from different sources. We have updated to say that SDS was handing out flyers explaining their reasons for protesting, and that the encounter between the old woman and one of the protesters was based on one person’s account. We will continue to make changes as more information comes out.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. vweinstabl says:

    To anyone reading or sharing this article: Please rethink where you get your sources from.
    This is NOT an accurate image of what occurred.
    I was there and would like to clear up what I saw ACTUALLY happened.
    While, I didn’t clearly see what happened to the man after he left early, I was watching the interaction between the old lady and the woman. Firstly, it was THE OLD LADY that hit HER with the cane and the protestor in response grabbed the cane (which made the old lady stumble forward by half a meter). But before anything else happened people got in between the two. I cannot attest to what she said but there was absolutely NO throwing of the old lady over a row of seats.
    I did not see the an act of pointing by the old lady because the cane hit the protestor’s face. Pointing to me is done with a finger or at least without contact. The protestor swore at in a very rude manner, but this gives the old lady NO right to hit the woman with her cane.
    This article’s bias is appalling.

    Like

    1. We are getting conflicting reports about the situation, but a student source (not from our organization) and our initial interviews have also claimed the altercation occurred in a much more violent manner than what you are suggesting, including the observation that the elderly woman was indeed flipped, knocked, or otherwise moved via some physical force over a chair. We are monitoring the situation and will adjust our article accordingly if undeniable evidence emerges one way or the other.

      All evidence points to the fact that the protest created an atmosphere that lent itself to violence. The fact that everyone appears to be in agreement with that point is undeniable.

      In this situation, it is of utmost importance that our supposed “bias” be negligible. We take that seriously.

      Like

  2. Leonard Eisen says:

    “The old woman pointed her cane at her. The African American woman grabbed the cane and threw the old woman over a row of seats…” That is not what happened. I was about 20 feet away while watching the confrontation. The old woman hit the protestor with her cane before the protestor shoved her. I don’t appreciate disrespectful protestors denying me and my peers an opportunity to have a dialogue with a John Brennan, but I won’t stand for factually false journalism painting an inaccurate picture of what happened at my school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Leonard Eisen, please see our comment above.

      Like

  3. Erica Mines says:

    To clear any qualms about the altercation; the disruption; the corruption or the shutting down of John Brennans lies, I can be reached at evolutionsunrise78@gmail.com. Upenn students, staff and faculties want to have these peaceful highly intellectualized conversations about the most corrupt agency on the planet; that’s not going to happen. While everyone is mourning the lives lost in France; no one is mourning the lives of innocent peoples dying in Syria; Yemen; Afghanistan; Nigeria and the United States. The U.S. and France murder, kill, torture and subjugate thousands of people in this country and abroad more than any other nation in the world. No one wants to expose the CIA for being what they truly are; A Terrorist Group! How many crimes has the CIA committed against Haiti, alone?!… The outcries for the lives lost in France would be doubled throughout the world if they were not people of color, but because white lives matter most, people of color here have to and will not allow anyone to romanticize the brutality of apartheid genocide and human extinction of a brown; red; yellow or black people, without interruption. His words will never reach the front of his tongue if ever I am in the room. As for Cruella DeVille, she called me a racist slur and when I yelled it back at her she told me not to sass her. That alone speaks to the mindset of those who applaud murderers like John Brennan. White folks haven’t owned Black people since 1865, yet she believes if i use the same term towards her she used against me, I should be punished.

    Like

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