Protests over DSK as student challenges him on Diallo
Around two hundred people protested outside the Cambridge Union against the decision to let Dominique Strauss-Kahn speak
by Matt Russell
Saturday 10th March 2012, 00:01 GMT
Over 200 people made themselves heard outside the Cambridge Union today, as they protested against Dominique Strauss-Kahn being allowed to speak.
Three protestors were also arrested, including a 19 year old man on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and a 23 year old woman on suspicion of breach of peace.
These follow two arrests made earlier today after the Union building was defaced with graffiti.
A more than sixty strong group of protestors marched through the city centre to the Union chanting "No more violence, no more rape", although they missed Strauss-Kahn’s arrival through a side entrance on Bridge Street.
His entrance was not with commotion though after an ugly confrontation between his security entourage and a photographer at the scene.
Among the large contingent protesting against Strauss-Kahn’s presence, Anton Bruder, a first year MML student at King’s held a placard saying that Dominique Strauss-Kahn should be allowed to speak.
This upset members of the protest, with one student snatching the placard out of his hand, while another managed to stamp on it before the police intervened.
He explained to Varsity his reasons for opposing the protest: “He has the freedom of speech like anyone else.”
“He is here to talk about an academic point in an academic institution, and he’s more than qualified to say lots of worthwhile things about that. Once he’s finished saying those things, because it is an open forum, people can ask him questions about anything, but he needs to be let to talk.”
Other protestors evidently disagreed and chants of “DSK, go away” could be heard clearly in the chamber where Strauss-Kahn spoke.
Women led the protests to show solidarity against Strauss-Kahn and to bravely speak out about rape culture.
The speeches were a poignant reminder of why the protests were happening, as one protestor said: "it is great to hear women speak out against rape and rape culture, but also saddening that we still have to in this day and age."
She added: "I don't understand how they could think it is suitable to give Dominique Strauss-Kahn a platform like this, what sort of message does that send out?"
It is also a reminder that the controversial talk occurs the day after International Women's Day.
Attempts to get over the gates and into the Union also caused security personnel to rush outside to further reinforce the security outside.
There was certainly no worries about security within the building as students entering the chamber had to pass an unprecedented number of checkpoints, including dropping off phones and coats, as well as being body searched before entering.
Strauss-Kahn was also well surrounded with four security personnel around him at all points during the talk, with six entering the chambers with him. He also unusually spoke by the doorway, allowing for a prompt exit.
Any fears of disruption inside the chambers appeared unfounded as he was met with applause and much of the discussion followed his talk on the role of the IMF and the Euro crisis.
He briskly acknowledged the noise outside saying “I’m very sorry about that."
But it was during the questions, that a student asked his opinion on the protests outside, earning the curtest reply of the night: “That's their freedom. They can do what they want.”
One student went further though, challenging Strauss-Kahn on why Nafissatou Diallo had “vaginal bruising the day after you met her”. The student also said that he had been at the Law faculty talk where her lawyer had spoken earlier in the day.
Diallo's lawyer, Douglas Widgor, had earlier called the invitation "an affront to all victims of sexual crimes."
The student's question, though, met a hasty response from the security team as one man went to escort him out, but Strauss-Kahn halted them before they left, willing to answer the question.
Strauss-Kahn said in response that: “The District Attorney of New York as the prosecutor, and he decided to dismiss the case because he said the lady was lying. That's it."
He added: “After one and a half months, the district attorney wrote to me saying, 'I'm sorry, we were wrong.' And took another month to do the paperwork, and he dismissed the charges. So, what do you want?"
Strauss-Kahn’s night did not end there though, as he was herded through Pizza Express in order to escape from the protestors covering other exits, as Varsity reported earlier.