A group of several protesters dressed in clown costumes and painted faces followed a CIA recruiter last night from his presentation in the UCen to his car behind the Thunderdome.

A CIA recruitment and informational meeting was taking place in a conference room on the UCen’s lower level, when, at 5 p.m., a group of protesters interrupted the recruiter’s PowerPoint presentation by placing one of their fellow clowns on the front table, binding his hands and arms, and pouring water on his face to simulate waterboarding torture in front of the presentation’s unsuspecting audience. The group also held a mock press conference citing historical torture statistics and played limbo with a fuzzy green boa before the recruiters quickly packed up their equipment and left the room.

The crowd of a dozen clowns and almost 50 onlookers followed the lead recruiter through the halls of the UCen, up and down two flights of stairs, and out to Storke Plaza, chanting “No torture at UCSB” and “CIA, go away.” The recruiter, who did not stop for comment, said only “I’m not in violation of anything,” before getting into his car at the lot next to Pardall Tunnel.

Jennifer Bamberg, a UCSB alumni and protester, was passing out anti-torture signs to fellow supporters in front of the UCen throughout the protest. She said students should reject the CIA and cited various allegations.

“It’s the fact that they practice torture since their inception,” Bamberg said. “They had a hand in the coup in Chile in ’73, they go into places like Afghanistan and assure opium gets to poor black areas in the U.S.; they supported crop dusting in Columbia and poisoned thousands of families’ farm supplies.”

According to third-year environmental studies major Whitney Walberg, “Community Members Against War” is the unofficial group behind the protest. The group has no set roster of members, but serves as a place for concerned students to plan action. Walberg said that the group chose the clown motif to embarrass the CIA and make a joke out of their meeting.

“The reason they feel this is effective is because they completely make the situation a joke,” Walberg said. “It takes the seriousness and legitimacy away from the CIA. UCSB is one of the only UCs that the CIA recruits at and we want them to stop what they’re doing.”

After the recruiter left, Will Parish, the most costumed of the protesters, spoke against the CIA while in character as a high-pitched clown.

“All I wanted to know was if, by Western standards, it’s OK for me to tickle you in the butt if it’s okay for you to torture people,” Parish said. “That guy was an evasive asshole.”

The protesters also distributed pamphlets detailing several instances of alleged CIA international abuses.
First year zoology and film studies major Lindsey Parker said she heard about the event through Facebook and came to protest what she deemed as unacceptable practices by the CIA.

“We claim to support a peaceful cause but then we do shady things like this,” Parker said. “There are all sorts of barbaric acts that are going on.”