Members of the activist groups Extinction Rebellion and Kochs Off Campus! gathered at the University of Arizona on Thursday, October 28 to protest the alleged funding of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom by Charles Koch and related organizations. An individual was arrested at the Freedom Center.
Charles Koch is an American businessman and philanthropist. In August 2021, he was ranked by Bloomberg as the 21st richest person in the world. He is CEO and President of Koch Industries, which specializes in petroleum manufacturing and was the largest privately held company in the United States in 2020.
These protests were associated with a national UnKoch My Campus day of action. According to the protesters, Koch is involved in funding the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona and uses that funding to promote ultra-conservative and libertarian ideas.
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At 9 a.m. on October 28, members of Extinction Rebellion began a sit-in at the Freedom Center in the Social Science Building on the AU campus.
“Koch and his allies consciously cast doubt on global warming and climate change thirty years ago; it’s a documented fact, ”said Patrick Diehl, member of the activist group Extinction Rebellion. “And one of their entities – there’s a lot, a lot – is the so-called Freedom Center here at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, I guess. While I don’t think this particular center directly promotes climate change denial, it does promote deregulation, which is obviously a big deal at this point. “
At 9:10 am, AU students associated with these activist groups handed out flyers to students entering a classroom that was giving the Freedom Center lecture, “The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation.” The flyer included six statements about Koch’s alleged involvement with the Freedom Center.
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By 10:30 a.m., only three activists were left at the Freedom Center, singing anti-Koch protest songs in an attempt to raise awareness for their cause. The activists were told to take their chants and chants outside by Freedom Center staff, but the activists refused and remained at the Freedom Center.
At noon, an officer from the University of Arizona Police Department was at the scene to speak with representatives of the AU administration, including representatives from the Department of Communications and legal staff from the AU. UA.
“So I was informed that we have protesters inside the building, usually they stay, stand outside and chant and sing and hand out leaflets,” said Holly Jensen, vice president of communications. to AU. “We were informed that they were inside the office and that they had been asked several times not to disrupt the work flow, and that is why the police were called, but we also have the dean of students here, the First Amendment advising them of their rights to be here, and as it is, we’re letting them know that they have a right to be here as long as they don’t disrupt classes or the workflow. … The only thing they are asked not to do is not to disrupt the workflow of the two people who are currently in this office.
At around 1 p.m., only one activist remained and chose to stay in the Freedom Center until it closed.
«A little before 5 p.m. yesterday, Thursday 28/10/2021, Patrick Diehl, Extinction Rebellion [XR] Member of Tucson, arrested during sit-in at “Freedom Center” [FC] offices on the University of Arizona campus, ”said a press release from Extinction Rebellion.
About 20 to 30 Kochs Off Campus members! and their allies then gathered at the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Campbell Avenue from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., where they held anti-Koch protest placards, as well as placards calling for climate action.
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“We are trying to make people aware that the Koch brothers, a very conservative group of people, are trying to influence the students at the University of Arizona by funding the so called ‘Freedom Center’, which is basically going to enact libertarian ideas, and they are. We don’t think it’s appropriate that this kind of private money can control the program [for] students. It depends on the state, on the people of the state of Arizona, not on the people who have the money and are willing to pay to get people to promulgate their ideas, ”said CJ Jones, an activist participating in the protest at the intersection of Speedway and Campbell. .
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