No one envies Governor Hickenlooper’s position when it comes to dealing with Occupy Denver. A situation involving freedom of speech, tiptoeing between city and state jurisdictions, and an electorate split not just down the middle, but into equal thirds, can easily transcend ‘sticky situation’ to become a full-on political nightmare. That job doesn’t get any easier when your college degree has been revoked… well, symbolically, at least.
An Occupy Denver press release explains Wesleyan students held a rally yesterday in solidarity with the Occupiers. At the end of the march, “they gathered to watch and participate in a dramatization of a citizens’ arrest of Governor Hickenlooper and the subsequent revocation of his degree by [a student impersonating] Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Afterward, the assembled crowd called the Governor’s office to inform him of the ceremony.”
Ross Levin, the student impersonating Wesleyan University’s President Roth in the “ungraduation”, told the Wesleyan Argus, “As members of this same community where [Hickenlooper] was–this same liberal, open-minded movement that upholds free speech and activism as part of what makes us strong–it is extremely disappointing to see someone who has come through this same space directly going against the Occupy movement.”
Wesleyan students also established an online petition devoted to “Denunciation of Governor Hickenlooper’s Assault on Occupy Denver.” It reads:
As members of the Wesleyan University community, we denounce the actions of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Class of 1974, toward the Occupy Denver encampment, particularly his support for violent eviction of demonstrators by state and local police. It is our belief that these actions, including the recent unprovoked police raids of November 12 and 13, violate the values of “independence of thought and generosity of spirit” set forth in the Wesleyan University Mission Statement. The police crackdown on Occupy Denver, supported by Hickenlooper since October, has included questionable mass arrests, use of chemical weapons such as pepper spray and pepper balls, firing of dangerous projectiles into crowds, and the gratuitous destruction of citizens’ property. In his own 2010 Wesleyan commencement speech, Governor Hickenlooper declared that “this democratic system we have will only work if people such as myself who have worked hard and been lucky are willing to give back.” We the undersigned demand that the Governor live up to the standards he himself asserted. We demand that, in the spirit of Wesleyanâs mission and our nation’s laws, he uphold the basic human rights of free speech and assembly for Colorado citizens.