Students burn books in protest of ordinance


    By Melanie Williams

    During the summer, smoke from barbeques is expected, but smoke rising from a pile of burning books is not.

    On Wednesday, June 28, a group of approximately 30 people, met at 1200 East 560 North in Provo to protest laws recently passed by the Provo City Council by burning books.

    Neil Walton, 24, from Mesa, Arizona, and lives at the home the protest was held at, described the group that met to protest the party and dance ordinances as “freedom fighters.”

    Charles Clawson, 24, a sophomore from Springfield, Virginia, who has an undeclared major, said the protesters burned the books because the event was an attention-getter.

    “When people hear [we are burning books], it draws attention,” Clawson said.

    Clawson said the protest”s main goal was to inform people although he admits burning books is a “radical” way to do it.

    Walton had a more practical reason behind the decision to burn books at the protest.

    “Especially at the beginning of a new term, there are a lot of books that people can”t sell back to the bookstore,” he said. “There are a lot of books just floating around.”

    The flyer advertising the protest said “BYOB,” or bring your own books, but several students who came to the protest saved books waiting to be burned, pulling them out of the stacks near the fire pit.

    While some students scrambled to save books, others burned books for symbolic reasons.

    Rachel Kirkland, 20, a senior from Sylacauga, Alaska, majoring in political science brought a copy of Theories of War and Peace to burn at the protest.

    “This book in particular has all of the theories from big political scientists who think that war is the only way to solve anything,” she said. “I have a personal problem with that, so I decided to burn it.”

    Books were not the only things that were burned Wednesday night. Zack Payne, a University of Utah student, and Chad Gooch, a BYU art student, tossed a television onto the pyre.

    The flyer advertising the protest said book burning was in protest of “fascist city laws.”

    Clawson said he believes the party and dance ordinances that the city council passed restrict not the criminal activity of drug-use at raves, but the ability of people to meet together.

    “When you start saying it”s the gathering you”re out to get and not the crime, then it”s starting a fascist state,” he said.

    Thomas Chimento, 43, from San Francisco, California, who came to Utah on vacation, saw a flyer for the protest posted on a community bulletin board while out for a walk and decided to go to it.

    Chimento said the laws “were pretty much in the original spirit of fascism.”

    “I will make a prediction that you can check on in a year, and see if there is ever a party with people over forty that”s been busted because they haven”t followed the rule,” he said. “It will be busts of people in their twenties.”

    If these laws were passed in another city, the protesters wouldn”t be burning books, “they”d be burning city hall,” Chimento said.

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