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Demonstrators rally against Gonzales hiring

A small group of protesters rallied on Belmont Boulevard and at the temporary law school Friday morning against Belmont’s hiring of Alberto Gonzales as a law professor.

These nine protesters, one of whom claimed to be a Belmont student, were appalled by the university’s actions to hire Gonzales, a former U.S. Attorney General during the Bush administration in October.

The demonstrators, members of the Tennessee chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, claimed Gonzales was “one of the key architects” to the Bush administration’s torture policies.

“It’s really shameful that Belmont would honor him by hiring him as a law professor,” said protester Mark Brooks, who also thought it “was deeply ironic to hire him to teach Constitutional Law.”

The protesters also claimed to talk to Gonzales this morning as part of the demonstration. A representative from the College of Law did not confirm nor deny the conversation occurred. The Office of Communication could not be reached for comment.

Brooks also hoped the protest would show the university what he and his fellow protesters felt about Gonzales’ tenure.

“(We want) to send a message that Gonzales’ behavior was shameful,” he said.

Will York, a 25-year-old lawyer, also demonstrated despite supporting Belmont before Gonzales’ hiring. He claims to have attended many of the school’s cultural events during the past four or five years.

“I’m really proud of Belmont opening itself up to new opinions and diverse views,” he said. “It’s kind of disconcerting to hire Alberto Gonzales.”

During the protest, the demonstrators were photographed by Dr. Jeff Kinsler, the dean of the Belmont College of Law. He declined to comment officially about the protest, but a Vision reporter overheard Kinsler later calling the group of “a bunch of aging hippies” while walking from the protest site. York later confirmed the statement was said when asked.

The demonstrators were also met with jeers from a female near Belmont Boulevard who claimed the protesters were on private property and needed to leave. When asked for comment, she again yelled that the protesters needed to leave campus. The demonstration occurred on the sidewalk of Belmont Boulevard. Vision managing editor Autumn Allison also contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Will York was a law school graduate, not a lawyer. York passed the Tennessee Bar Exam in 2011.

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