Demonstrators Stage Waterboarding


Demonstrators stage waterboarding in the Quad, Oct. 30

The Inquirer, Diablo Valley (CA) Student Voice

Curtis Uemura

Issue date: 11/6/08

Political activists from World Can't Wait and Contra Costa Radical Action groups simulate waterboarding, the highly criticized interrogation method used by the U.S. government on suspected terrorists. This demonstration was held Oct. 30.

Media Credit: Adalto Nascimento

Students passing by the Main Quad at 12:15 p.m., Oct. 30, would have witnessed a young man being dragged through the crowd by someone wearing army fatigues.

"What do you know about Shaheem Pedir?" the man in fatigues repeatedly shouted.

With the help of two men dressed in shirts and ties, the captive was hustled into an orange jumpsuit and informed he had no rights.


DVC student Joe Allen, far right, interrogates the suspected terrorist while he is being held in place and his hands bound.

"Why are you doing this?" he pleaded before being slapped in the head and forced to lie face up on a slanted board.

A cloth towel was placed over his face, while the three men screamed questions.

Suddenly, the man in the fatigues doused the towel with a half a gallon of water, repeating it again and again until two gallons had poured on the young man's face.

The only sounds to be heard were those of his gagging and screaming.

The demonstration was put on by two organizations, World Can't Wait and Contra Costa Radical Action, with help from DVC students associated with the groups.

"It is to show what waterboarding is, and they can decide for themselves if it's torture or not," said Giovanni Jackson, the emcee for the event and a member of World Can't Wait.

About 200 people gathered to watch.

Playing one of the C.I.A. agents, DVC student Joe Allen said, "[But] it seems a lot of people here don't take it seriously".

DVC student, Mike R (who declined to reveal his last name) played the part of the victim. He said it was his first experience with waterboarding.

In contrast to the real thing, a piece of plastic was placed over his nose and mouth so the water wouldn't actually go down his throat or nose. Still, it was terrifying, even as a simulation.

"I'm still shaking," Mike R. said. "Even with the piece of plastic, you can still feel the water on your face and you know you have no place to go."

After the demonstration, Jackson, began to talk about waterboarding when he was interrupted by angry student, who shouted, "What about what they are doing to the U.S soldiers?" before he was restrained by a friend.

In a later interview, the student, Gaelan Shields, said his brother is a sergeant in Iraq and his father is a Vietnam veteran.

"Yes, this [waterboarding] is wrong, but you have to look at it from both sides," he said. "For every action, there's a reaction."

And after the demonstration, Jackson yelled to the crowd, "Do you think waterboarding is torture?"

"Yes," came the loud reply.

Yet, when it was over, students voiced mixed reactions.

"It's kind of like pouring gas on the fire," said Seth Craven. "Yeah, it gets people to talk, but it's not being civil. It does more harm than good."

While waterboarding is "extreme," the United States could do even worse things to its prisoners, said Brendan Mueller.

"The torture models for other countries like Russia, China, or Israel are a lot less civilized," he said. "Their methods operate on direct physical harm, whereas ours operate on fear."

Mueller called waterboarding "a necessary evil."

"Interrogation works and provides necessary intelligence," he said. "If it did not work, it would not be used."


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.