Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, one of the most prominent women in American public life and the outspoken advocate of President Clinton’s foreign policy, is the lead speaker at the UC Berkeley commencement today.
She’ll speak to graduating seniors and their guests at the commencement convocation at 4 p.m. in the Hearst Greek Theatre on campus, but not before a group of protesters offers its dissent.
A protest rally/teach-in is scheduled for Sproul Plaza from 12 to 1 p.m. today by the “Madeleine Albright Unwelcoming Committee.”
Following the speeches at the teach-in, the rally is scheduled to move across campus to the Greek Theatre, where guests will be admitted as early as 2 p.m., said Stephen Dunifer, who is coordinating the rally.
The Berkeley activist and community organizer said speakers at the rally would represent the spectrum of dissent with Clinton foreign policy in general.
Dunifer said the Unwelcoming Committee has contacted dozens of groups in the Bay Area, and peace and justice centers are organizing car pools for the rally.
The International Action Center in San Francisco has contacted groups, he said, and the protest plans are being aired on radio station KPFA.
“We hope at least 1,000 people will show up,” Dunifer said, adding that enthusiasm is still high from protests in Seattle and in Washington, D.C.
The committee has its own web site with a picture of the secretary of state with a hawkish visage compared to the softer image of Albright on a State Department web site.
One of the central issues for the groups expected to attend is the Clinton Administration’s sanctions against Iraq. Dunifer and others have said the economic sanctions against Iraq are killing hundreds of thousands of children there.
Others are protesting the embargo of Cuba, which affects food supplies among other things; military aid for what Dunifer said is the “supposed drug war in Columbia;” the bombing of Yugoslavia; and trade normalization with China.
Capt. Bill Cooper of the University of California Police Department said the department will increase the number of officers on duty at the graduation ceremony to 45 officers, but more could be added depending upon the crowds.
The university will work in tandem with security forces from the United States Department of State, and as a precaution, all guests at the event will walk through a metal detector.