This post will discuss the protest that occurred during the Dawkins-Myers armchair discussion on the 9th June 2011. A separate post will be published discussing the content of the talk. I will try to dispassionately state what occurred. I will not discuss my opinions towards the New College of Humanities or the protesters, as they are subject to change, irrelevant to the aim of this post and there are plenty of other opinions flying around regarding both subjects.
I took two videos of the protest. Both videos are unedited and predominantly contain footage of the protesters standing in front of the stage, thus I have listed time stamps at which interesting events occur. The videos are only available if you are a friend on Facebook. I do not wish to sensationalise the event. There are several other videos of the protest on YouTube. The first starts shortly after the protesters enter the auditorium. This is at approximately 19:20-25. Upon entering Institute of Education I noticed two police officers stood outside on the street.
2:40 – Police enter
4:16 – An audience member performs some comedic theatre (possibly Monty Python, I can’t remember) and the audience applause
5:39 – Audience stand up and face the back of the auditorium. A small minority of audience members do remain sat down.
7:18 – The loud gentleman’s hair is made fun of
8:08 – Audience sit down
8:17 – The tall girl who has been pacing the stage since entry gets off the stage
9:39 – I note that the talk is only five minutes late at this point
12:21 – Our neighbors discuss what legally can and can’t be done
15:45 – One of the protesters unsuccessfully tries to address the audience.
During the first 17 minutes a female protester wearing a jumper with a large daisy on it sits down near us. Myself and Richy point her out to Andrew West who talks to her and stands by her until she rejoins the rest of the protesters.
I stop shooting after ~17 minutes. There is ~5 minutes gap between video 1 and video 2. During this time an audience member moves to the stage. The audience mistake him for a protester and boo him, but upon realising he not with the protesters they allow him to speak. He angrily asks the protesters to leave, arguing that he has paid what, to him, is a lot of money to be there. He threatens to forcibly remove them himself starting with the gentleman with wavy hair and a beard, who he describes as “James Dean”. A police officer walks on stage and speaks to him. He then leaves the stage.
More police officers have entered the auditorium.
0:22 – The gentleman previously described as “James Dean” gets up and begins to leave with the other protesters.
0:58 – All protesters have exited the auditorium. The audience cheer.
Police officers are stationed at the doors to the the right and back of the auditorium for the duration of the talk. During Prof. Dawkins introductory statements a protester who is seated in the back row yells “and profit”. He is rapidly removed forcibly by two police officers. Prof. Dawkins responds by stating that all money received from speaking engagements is donated to charity.
Later on, two protesters seated at the front of the auditorium stand up and approach Prof Dawkins and Prof Myers and begin speaking to Prof Dawkins, who states repeatedly that he will take questions at the end. The two protesters leave the auditorium escorted by the police.
At the end of the question a woman who has been queuing for the microphone on the right side of the hall poses a question to Prof Dawkins about the New College of Humanities. He provides a lengthy answer, which some non-protesting members of the audience respond to and a very brief debate between Prof Dawkins and those audience members occurs before the evening is concluded.