Walkout and Protest at Lierre Keith’s Environmental Speech at PIELC

The EMU Ballroom was buzzing with the chatter of an anticipatory crowd minutes before controversial activist Lierre Keith took to the podium at the Public Information Environmental Law Conference on Thursday, Feb. 28.

Attendees were required to check their bags before entering, and security and police forces were standing by throughout all parts of the EMU Ballroom. Regardless of strong police preparation in case of a violent of rowdy demonstration, the event remained calm for all but for a quiet walkout during Keith’s performance and a rally in the EMU amphitheater.

“We haven’t had any problems so far,” Mike Schueller, manager of Starplex Crowd Management said. “Nobody has made any effort to act out in some sort of curious way. We’re just taking the necessary precautions for an event that gets this type of attention.”

According to Schueller, there were over 1,000 emails sent to the University prior to the event regarding Keith’s presence at the University of Oregon School of Law’s 32nd annual PIELC.

Before the event, protesters passed out fliers in the Ballroom just outside the auditorium’s doors. When Keith took the podium, there was only one ‘boo’ from the crowd, but as she began her keynote speech, throngs of people got up and walked out. From the ballroom, the procession moved to the EMU Amphitheater.

People congregated in front of a lone protestor, sitting atop a constructed tripod, high above the gathering. A banner below him read, “Students Love Inclusion.”

Many in the group of protesters —comprised mostly of LGBTQA groups, the Survival Center and Cascadia Forest Defenders— had previously petitioned the ASUO senate not to allow Keith to speak.

UO senior and Survival Center member Paige Corich-Kleim helped organized the protest rally. She was pleased with how the protest efforts went.

“This is the start of a bigger mission of making spaces more trans-inclusive,” Corich-Kleim said. “[Lierre Keith] is still talking and people are still listening to her.”

The group led chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, Lierre Keith has got to go,” and “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going anywhere,” from the Amphitheater while the author spoke within the EMU.

Read more here: http://dailyemerald.com/2014/02/27/walkout-and-protest-at-lierre-keiths-environmental-speech-at-pielc/
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