Thousands Attend Churchill Speech

By Erin Gartner, Associated Press
February 8, 2005

A University of Colorado professor who ignited a firestorm by likening the World Trade Center victims to Nazis received a standing ovation Tuesday from a crowd of more than a thousand who packed a ballroom to hear him speak.

University officials had announced plans to cancel the speech because of security concerns then backed off after Ward Churchill filed a lawsuit earlier Tuesday asking a judge to force the school to let him speak.

More than two dozen campus police officers inside the ballroom used handheld metal detectors to scan attendees for weapons. It was not immediately clear if police found any.

Outside the ballroom, about 250 people who were turned away, listened to Churchill's speech on speakers set up by university officials.

The crowd was loud and orderly as an Churchill, whose writings and speeches face a 30-day university review that could lead to his dismissal, spoke: "I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for (Gov.) Bill Owens. I work for you," he said to thunderous applause.

"I don't answer to Bill Owens. I do not answer to the Board of Regents in the way they think I do. The regents should do their job and let me do mine." Most of those attending the rally were in support of Churchill.

"I've read some of Ward's work," said 26-year-old Vinita Laroia, an environmental studies major. "I've read some of Ward's work. I think what he has to say is true and interesting. I wanted to hear his actual voice say what he's thinking."

The ethnic studies professor and American Indian Movement activist called some Sept. 11 victims "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jews.

Churchill said he was referring to "technocrats" who participate in what he calls repressive American policies around the world. He said those include Iraqi trade sanctions after the first Gulf War that have been blamed for the deaths of 500,000 children.

Evan Ravitz, 52, of Boulder, was holding a lone sign of protest that read: "Ward — Big Little Man." "He's a sloppy scholar," Ravits said.

Return to Ward Churchill's Essay "Some People Push Back"