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Follow-Up: UCSB Army Conference Totally Shut Down!

by Gabriel Richard Friday, Feb. 15, 2008 at 11:32 PM

Anti-war protesters celebrated on February 13th after having forced the US Army's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) to cancel the second day of its annual conference at UC Santa Barbara.

Follow-Up: UCSB Army...
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Anti-war protesters celebrated on February 13th after having forced the US Army's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) to cancel the second day of its annual conference at UC Santa Barbara.

Upon arriving at UCSB's Corwin Pavilion on Wednesday morning to engage in a second day of direct action against the conference, protesters found that the building was empty and that facility staff had posted a pair of signs reading, "The ICB Conference Has Been Canceled." Staff at the Hotel MarMonte, where the conference attendees were staying, confirmed that the conference did not occur on the second day.

The day prior, over 500 UCSB students and Santa Barbara community members disrupted the conference to demand an end to UC complicity in illegal weapons research designed to kill Iraqis in an illegal war. The protesters completely disrupted the conference multiple times, including for more than an hour following the lunch period. The day culminated when around 100 chanting protesters entered Corwin Pavilion whereupon roughly 50 lingering conference attendees quickly departed.

The ICB is a $50 million Army-funded research institute hosted by UCSB, with sub-contracts at MIT and the California Institute of Technology. According to the Army's 2006 Budget Justification to Congress, the "ICB is focused on advancing the survivability of both the soldier and weapons systems through fundamental breakthroughs in the area of biotechnology," including sensors, electronics, and photonics for these military applications. The annual conferences feature military-sponsored biotechnology researchers from all over the country.

"The ICB's research directly contributes to the war in Iraq as well as to the US military's long-term project of, to paraphrase the Army, war that will not end in our lifetime. Therefore, it was the most salient target possible for an anti-war protest at UCSB," protest organizer Larri Craig said. "Our victory in this action represents a major triumph of people power over the United States' bloated war machine."

The anti-war direct action movement has been building steadily at UC Santa Barbara during the past year, starting when roughly 1,500 protesters shut down Highway 217 last February 15 to protest the war in Iraq. In other recent actions, students have driven CIA recruiters from campus, conducted a nine-day hunger strike against the University of California's development of nuclear weapons, and conducted a large "critical mass" bike ride from Isla Vista to downtown Santa Barbara.
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